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Eastern States trip: “26 States in 26x2 Days”

Would you take an epic road trip visiting all 26 states east of the Mississippi River?

I’m taking the challenge and calling it “26 States in 26x2 Days”. The trip starts on September 9, 2021. While I have a route mapped out, I don’t have a schedule for when I’ll be where! I’ve been in all 50 states in the past and now I am on a mission to visit them all again after January 1st, 2014. I’m now at 40 of them and will be at 48 when this trip completes! (Oregon and Hawaii remain.)

Part I map

Part I of 26 States
Part I of 26 States in 26(x2) Days

While one objective continues the quest to complete my second visit to all 50 states, I have several other objectives as well. First, I want to see more of this geographically diverse country I call home. Second, I want to see unique attractions in the eastern half of the US. Third, I want to demonstrate how it’s possible to cover a lot of territory on a budget and still enjoy the trip!

Trying to balance a “budget” of time and dollars and seeing something in all 26 states certainly has its challenges! I’m using a premium website called Roadtripper Plus which allows me to create a road trip with up to 150 “waypoints.” Since I’m passing through 26 states and have many potential stops, I’ve set up the route as three separate “trips.” This post includes the “tentative” maps. As of August 11th, these maps represent my trip and include over 300 waypoints. As this post will be the “cornerstone” post, I’ll update when I return with the actual stops I did make.

Although I’m obviously looking forward to the trip, I’m REALLY looking forward to sharing it with you! During the trip, I’ll be sending one summary each week and (likely) another short update to subscribers to my FREE email list. I’ll be posting almost daily to my Premium subscribers. Here’s the link to check out the great benefits!

Continuing description of Part I

Part I takes me from home in Minnesota into New Hampshire. That’s already over 15 states! This trip initially contained my planned trip to Charleston, SC, for a Navy reunion that was “terminated” by COVID in 2020. As I continued to add waypoints, I ran into the 150 waypoint limit and split that trip into Part I and II. Part III larger remains the same as my initial return trip.

Part II map

Part II of 26 States
Part II of 26 States in 26(x2) Days

This page takes me from New Hampshire through Vermont, New York, and more Eastern states to South Carolina. Referencing from above, this trip nearly takes me to my original destination (Charleston SC). To ensure I’d have enough waypoints, I moved a few stops to Part III. Now, Part II is my shortest segment! You see some long drives without waypoints. I’ll likely see some interesting stops along the way and add them “on the fly”. This section takes me to five states I haven’t visited in many years.

Part III map

Part III of 26 States
Part III of 26 States in 26(x2) Days

This trip will eventually lead me home. Part III runs through nearly a dozen states! And takes me into two more states I haven’t visited in many years.

Quest to visit all 50 states….again!

As I mentioned above, I have visited all 50 states during Navy, vacation, and business trips. I set a new goal to revisit all 50 after January 1st, 2014. At this writing, I’ve been to 40 states on my revisit quest. Part I of the trip takes me to five more: Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Part II & III take me into South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. That will bring me to 48! Oregon and Hawaii remain when this trip ends!

While one purpose of the trip is to visit these states, I’m also focusing on several major categories along the way. First, I’m doing it for the pure enjoyment of seeing so many attractions. Second, I already mentioned, I want to share it with you! Third, I expect to see attractions in all the categories listed in the next section.

Trip Categories and other facts

My main categories include National Parks; Presidential homes, museums, and birthplaces; iconic sports venues; odd, weird, quirky, and kitschy attractions; unique places; a few museums in addition to the presidential libraries and museums; and other attractions. The maps above are a “work in progress,” as I’ll likely skip some of the places on the map and add others as I go.

On a trip in 2019, I set a “rule” that I would stop at every historical site indicated by highway road signs. I quickly found that to be impractical! I will, however, use those signs as a guide and stop when something draws my interest. I’ll also take suggestions, so please let me know if anyone has unique places in mind.

Did you know that the US states reached almost equal division by the Mississippi River? There are 26 states entirely east of the river. There are 22 states entirely west of the river. Minnesota and Louisiana have some parts east of the river, but since most of their land is west of the river, they are considered western states. Now, if California does as threatened by some, and divides itself into multiple states…..

26 States in 26x2 Days blog posts plans

Currently, I expect to write a general blog post for each state or likely combine a couple of states if I don’t see much there. I’ll also write separate posts for each presidential location, national park, and other locations I decide can accommodate a post. For the odd, weird, quirky, kitschy locations, I may include them in a large post I initially created in 2019. While that one included one for each state, I can rearrange it to include more than one.

I will post this cornerstone to the blog before I leave for the trip. I wanted to give subscribers a preview before posting to the public blog and seek input for comments and suggestions. I’ve received a number of helpful suggestions.

In summary, I plan to visit a total of 27 states (including Iowa) and see many different attractions along the way. I’ve already identified a few people I know in these locations that I may visit. Currently, my Classic Rock Recollection includes my road trip playlist, a list I play to kick off every road trip. Premium subscribers voted in the theme song, “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash and others.

Each state will have a very brief summary here, one representative picture, and a link to the post or posts about that state. However, for the initial post, I’ll just give a brief summary. I may post pictures during my trip, but most of this post will be completed as I complete the blog posts for the trip itself.

Below are the states in the order in which I visit them. Again, just a very brief piece here and more later.

Midwestern states

Wisconsin

My very first stop is the Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology. The big draw for this one is the story about the first supercomputer, the Cray. Interestingly, Chippewa Falls is the hometown of Seymour Cray. While he attended the University of Minnesota and worked for several Minnesota companies, chief among them Control Data Corporation, when he left CDC, he formed Cray Research in Chippewa Falls. Also of interest, Leinenkugel’s Brewing, maker of the well-known Wisconsin beer, makes its home here.

While in Wisconsin, other attractions include Wisconsin Dells, Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright’s summer location), the Wisconsin State Capital in Madison, and several stops in Milwaukee. I hope to see the Harley Davidson Museum but if I run out of time, that will be part of another trip. My last stop in Wisconsin is the Lake Express Ferry terminal in Milwaukee which will take me across Lake Michigan to…

Michigan

… the entry point of Muskegon Michigan. After a quick visit to Muskegon, I’m on my way to Grand Rapids. And the first Presidential Museum appears on my route. President Gerald R. Ford’s hometown. While his Presidential Library is in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, the museum showcasing his life and achievements remains in Grand Rapids. He and his wife, Betty Ford, are buried on the grounds.

I haven’t planned other stops in Michigan but expect to take it as it comes!

From Michigan, I’ll follow the highway as it approaches Lake Michigan and likely make a few stops. From there, I go into…..

Indiana

..and my first planned stop at the Indiana Dunes National Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. Since I visited Notre Dame (South Bend) on another trip, that’s not on this agenda. The next planned stop is a military battlefield, a famed ice cream shop, and Purdue University in West Lafayette. (Purdue isn’t really on the schedule but will stop to see it. After all, it is a Big Ten university!)

Two Presidential museums, President William Henry Harrison, and his grandfather, President Benjamin Harrison! As a side note, Benjamin Harrison V (his great-grandfather), signed the Declaration of Independence (along with a few others, of course!)

And I can’t miss the site of arguably the most famous auto race in the US, The Indy 500! The track and the associated museum make my list. Several other stops include one of the quirky places on my list. Following those stops, I’m entering….

Kentucky

.. at Louisville. The Louisville Slugger Museum, Churchill Downs, and the Muhammad Ali Center get the nod for places to see here. The Zachary Taylor Presidential center and another quirky place draw my attention here before continuing on to…..

Ohio

…entering Cinncinati where I’ll initially see the William Howard Taft National Historic Site and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Ohio claims home for eight US Presidents, more than any other state. However, I’m only seeing five of the Presidential Museums.

Ohio consumes several days of my time as there are several quirky places to see as well. The National Football League Hall of Fame is in Canton, the statehouse is in Columbus, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland. My current list includes about 25 places in Ohio. I believe I have more stops in Ohio than any other state, but that can change. From Ohio, I enter…..

Northeastern states

Pennsylvania

…and visit Pittsburgh and a unique church south of there. I hope to see Falling Water, a Frank Lloyd Wright house as well. More in Pennsylvania later but from here, I’m into…

West Virginia

… a quirky attraction in Point Pleasant, the WV state capital, and the Greenbriar, a historic hotel/resort. Along with a couple of other stops at New River Gorge National Park and the National Radio Astronomy location. My personal interest comes from a Navy friend who did this work for his career. (I will likely hit the corner of West Virginia again when I come back around, heading south.) From here, I head into…

Virginia

… with the first stop likely to be a historic town, then into a Civil War battle memorial, an extension of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and another quirky attraction. I’ll see more of Virginia on my way back south again. Now, for a quick stop in…

Washington DC

…where I’m likely to only make a stop or two. We visited here in 2019 and I’ve been here about half a dozen times over the years. I’m thinking of the Washington National Cathedral because it’s easy in and out! From there, into….

Maryland

…and Annapolis to see the State Capital and the Naval Academy. Following those stops, it’s into Baltimore for a couple of historic attractions and supposedly a great ice cream treat! Oh, another quirky stop as well. And into….

Delaware

..for the State Capital and a quirky stop before heading back into…

Maryland, again

.. because I have to get around the Chesapeake Bay, another bay, and visit Ocean City for a number of interesting attractions. Ocean City is mostly a summer beach place so some places may even be closed when I get there. Followed by crossing back into….

Delaware again

.. just to board the Lewes-Cape May Ferry. (Sounds like George Washington, crossing the Delaware!) From there into…

New Jersey

.. of course, Cape May. From there, I’ll visit another quirky place, a presidential museum, an Ivy League university, and a couple of others. I expect to see the Statue of Liberty which is actually in New York but I’ll catch a ferry ride from the New Jersey side. A couple of other places as I head north but first….

New York City

… to see the 911 Memorial, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Broadway (but not a play), Times Square, and maybe the Intrepid Museum. It’s New York so I’ll add a few extra stops. I’m trying to find “affordable” hotels in Manhattan but I don’t think those words go together! Certainly need to visit as many iconic places as I can build into my time there before heading back into…

New Jersey, again

….to “driveby” Met Life Stadium and a couple of cities mentioned in the song “I’ve Been Everywhere”! I’m debating whether to stay in Jersey overnight or to drive into “The City”! But, after that, I’m back into…

New York (state this time)

… and visit the site of Woodstock! Hey, I’m a boomer, what do you expect! I’ll also see another Presidential museum and the state capital. Places in the song “I’ve Been Everywhere” lie along the route. Maybe, a couple of other stops but I’ll be back! From here, I’m headed into ….

New England states

Massachusetts

…to see another Presidential museum and I hope to catch “The Big E”, which is the name everyone calls The Big East Exposition; a state fair that includes all six New England states. Again, a couple of places in the theme song. With “great anticipation”, I head into….

Connecticut

… and a tribute to a great American author, an Ivy League University, a couple of seaport towns, and a great little town where an eating place spawned a movie! I’ve got a few others on my list and a friend told me to explore Connecticut a bit. I’ll see the state capital as well. But, onward and “upward”, into…

Rhode Island

.. where I’ll see Newport, the site of Bob Dylan’s “going electric” in 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival. I’m still looking for a couple more stops in Rhode Island. Of course, there is another quirky site and the state capital. And, from there into…

Massachusetts, again

.. to Lizzie Borden’s Bed & Breakfast! Another museum, an iconic sports venue, and a museum of two presidents. No, not JFK, visited there back in 2016. Of course, any trip through Massachusetts wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Salem to see the Witch Trials Memorial! Then, proceed into…

New Hampshire & Maine

Initially, drive through the narrowest part of New Hampshire to have a lobster roll in Kittery, Maine. We spent 6 days in Maine in 2016, so no need to see much of it on this trip. Then into New Hampshire for nearly a dozen stops. Another president here and another ____henge visit! Also, a Revolutionary War site, the state capital, and several scenic and historical places. Proceeding logically into the next state which is…

Vermont

…initially visiting Concord and on to Montpelier, the state capital. At this point, I have three quirky sites on my list. I also have historical attractions. One former president resided in Vermont. That is Chester A. Arthur in northern Vermont. It’s about 20 miles from Canada. I don’t know if I’ll make this an international trip. The route continues along Lake Champlain and visits several historic sites before going into…

Northeastern states, again

New York state, again

..where I have about 15 places to visit. First, I’m going a bit out of my way to visit Lake Placid, home of the Miracle on Ice in 1980. Another president is on the list. And visiting western New York I must see Niagra Falls. And run into another _____henge place! I hope to meet a friend from one of my contract jobs back in 2013/14. That will be in Buffalo.

I’m not sure if the Buffalo Bills stadium is iconic, but at least it’s one of the oldest, completed in 1973. The only older stadiums are Soldier Field in Chicago, Lambeau in Green Bay, and Arrowhead in Kansas City. Soldier Field underwent almost a full rebuild in 2003, so which one is really older. Actually, the Bills stadium is “iconic” in that replacement efforts happen regularly as some consider it (arguably) the worst in the NFL, especially since the Raiders left the Oakland Coliseum!

After visiting the Corning Glass Museum and a few other stops, the route takes me into….

Pennsylvania, again

….and this time, I’ll see more places. One of the first places appears in a popular song released in 1982. Which town appears in the song? More later! Then a town named after an almost mythical athlete who received two gold medals in the 1912 Olympics. Again, does anyone know who that is? And then a town known both as the hometown of a racing family and a biblical town! In addition to the state capital and Gettysburg National Military Park, several other stops occur before driving into…

Maryland and West Virginia

..and just to see a scenic overlook in Maryland and a historic site in West Virginia. Since I’ve already been in both states, these two places are along the route. Visiting Harpers Ferry, WV, to see the National Historic Park. Abolitionist John Brown, led his group to overrun an arsenal. Due to fatalities on the government side, Brown was executed but the event played a key role that led to the Civil War. From there, back into….

Virginia, again

…to see four Presidential museums, two Civil war sites, a state capital, a National Park, and a couple of quirky attractions. George Washington’s Mount Vernon visit happened in 2018, so I won’t see it this time. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello likely ranks as the most famous or important of the Presidential sites after Mount Vernon. Although I’ve visited Colonial Williamsburg, it’s on my list to see again. But in the typical “Driveby Tourist” fashion! After driving over (and under) a unique combination bridge/tunnel (and back again), I’m off to …..

The Carolinas

North Carolina

… and my first stop at the state capital. I don’t think I’ll pass back and forth between states again! North Carolina presents several opportunities to see historical attractions. And some quirky locations pop up again! In the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, three major universities “live” within about 50 miles. All three represent college basketball at its best over the years.

Research Triangle Park locates in the area, the largest research park in the United States, and a premier global innovation center. The park represents research and technology connections between universities and industry. Its 7,000 acres house hundreds of companies, including science and technology firms, government agencies, academic institutions, startups, and nonprofits. Many well-known companies operate research centers here. And I move on to….

South Carolina

… and find a quirky location called “South of the Border”. It’s a combination of travelers’ oases, shopping locations, and amusement parks. Due to the nature of some of the locations on the campus, South of the Border finds itself on the list of well-known quirky locations!

Of course, there’s much more to South Carolina. I’ll see a national park, South Carolina’s capital building, several historic locations, and more. Myrtle Beach, a well-known tourist trap, oh, I mean destination, found its way to my list. I expect to spend a couple of days in Charleston as that was to be my primary location. Historic Fort Sumter, the antebellum buildings, the beauty of Charleston in general, create the potential for a great stop! And, I move on into….

Deep South states

Georgia

… with my first stop in historic Savannah. From there, I’ll stop by Augusta National, home of the Masters. As a member of “The Great Unwashed”, I won’t get onto the course but just stopping by and viewing the outside is worth the trip! There are a couple of quirky locations here as well. And the Ty Cobb museum; one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

There are several attractions in eastern Tennessee, including Great Smoky National Park, so I’ll drive about 450 miles to see them, instead of about 70 miles from Athens GA into Atlanta! That great southern city includes a Presidential museum and the Martin Luther King National Historic Park. Of course, I’ll see more than that, but I’ll write more about it then.

Of course, the state capital stands in Atlanta as well. After a couple of additional stops, I’m into ….

Alabama

… and, Birmingham! Currently, I’m looking at several Civil Rights museums as well as other historical attractions. I’m currently still doing some research for Birmingham. But from there to Montgomery and the state capital. I’ll see a couple of other places as well, before crossing the border into….

Florida

…and visiting the highest elevation in Florida. At 345 feet above sea level, it’s the lowest high elevation of all US states. While here, I’ll likely visit Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, and Pensacola. By the way, I spent 8 months in Pensacola in the Navy, many years ago! But, move along back into…

Alabama

… where I’ll go to LA (that’s Lower Alabama for us non-southerners!) While here, I’ll visit the “Red Neck Riveria” (actually that begins in Florida) for more beach locations. I’ll also visit another quirky location, Bamahenge! Of course, I MUST visit Foley, Alabama, the hometown of Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, a Hall of Fame Raider Quarterback! Then, several more historical sites as well as the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, home of the Crimson Tide. (“Roll Tide.”) Following those visits, I’m into….

Mississippi

… and on to Starkville, home of Mississippi State and the Presidential Museum of Ulysses S. Grant. The unusual fact is that Grant was born in Ohio but his Presidential Library is here! Mississippi’s destinations include part of the historic Natchez Trace, now a National Park managed Parkway. Of course, Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, so that is a must-stop!

I’m scheduled to see other historic attractions and a couple of locations celebrating old-time blues music, many of them in Mississippi. Following that, I’ll be headed into….

Middle central states and back into Midwest

Tennessee

…. with the likely first stop in Memphis. Six of the scheduled attractions revolve around music, such as Graceland, Beale Street, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, the Tina Turner Museum, and more. The National Civil Rights Museum takes in the site of Martin Luther King’s assassination and several other locations in Memphis.

The remainder of Tennessee is historic locations, two presidential museums, and Nashville! (I’ll try to fit in a visit with a Navy friend south of Nashville.) After Nashville, I’ll enter….

Kentucky

… with the first scheduled stop being another _____henge! Mammouth Cave National Park, the National Corvette Museum, another quirky location, and the Trail of Tears Park and Heritage Center make up most of the Kentucky part of the trip. But, if you remember, I already visited Kentucky at the beginning of the trip.

Illinois

… another quirky site, Giant Superman statue in Metropolis IL! Then, the quirky stop to top all quirky stops on the trip. Casey, IL, is obsessed with giant “things”! The town residents created 12 (and counting) Guinness Book of World Records items. They include the world’s largest: Rocking Chair, Pitchfork, Mailbox, Wind Chimes, Golf Tee, and more. The town also created “big things”, but not world records. They include Antlers, Bird Cage, and Bat; Spinning Top and Toy Glider; Knitting Needles and Crochet Hook; and others.

I’ll see a couple of scenic locations and another place name in the theme song. Since I’m winding down the trip, I’m likely to be ready to get home, but first I’m entering….

Iowa

…with the first stop in Riverside at the “Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk”. According to the story, references found indicate that Capt. Kirk was born in Iowa but in no specific city. Riverside decided to claim the title! After visiting another town in the theme song, I’ll see the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum. And, by the time I get this far, I may see the Field of Dreams movie site. I’ve been there before, so may skip it.

From there, I head to Waterloo, partly because it’s another town in the theme song and to visit the infamous Charles Manson Intersection. Really, it’s just an intersection of Charles St. and Manson St. and created long before the serial killer. No intent to “honor” him. Apparently, it’s a bit morbid but also funny!

Then I’ll round out my Iowa visit by seeing the Buddy Holly crash site near Clear Lake and the Hobo Museum in Britt. Following those stops, I’m back into …..

Minnesota

… and possibly a stop at the Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth and the SPAM museum in Austin. And, no visit to that part of Minnesota should exclude the world-famous Mayo Clinic. My final stop may be Northfield, where the Jesse James gang unsuccessfully tried to rob the local bank. “Defeat of Jesse James Days” continues to be celebrated in Northfield every September.

And, I think it’s time to head home.

Summary of 26 States in 26(x2) Days!

Well, that will be quite a trip! I’ve visited 26 (actually 27 counting Iowa) in xx days. I hope I can say “It’s been great!” when I get home.

Classic Rock Playlist

Here is my Road Trip Playlist. Every song has some connection to trips, driving, or meaning related to road trips. For example, Number 1 on the list, I read in a book from one of my favorite authors, John Sandford, that every road trip starts with that song!

  1. Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top
  2. Turn the Page by Bob Seger
  3. Highway Star by Deep Purple
  4. Running on Empty by Jackson Browne
  5. Midnigh Rider by The Allman Brothers
  6. Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
  7. Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane
  8. Runnin’ Down a Dream by Tom Petty
  9. Highway to Hell by AC/DC
  10. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyard Skynyrd
  11. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf
  12. Where the Streets Have no Name by U2
  13. Truckin’ by The Grateful Dead
  14. Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads
  15. All Night Long by Lionel Richie
  16. Here I Go Again by Whitesnake
  17. Rocket Man by Elton John
  18. I Can’t Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar
  19. Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger
  20. Day Tripper by The Beatles
  21. On the Road Again by Willie Nelson
  22. I Get Around by The Beach Boys
  23. Little Red Corvette by Prince
  24. Travelin’ Man by Ricky Nelson
  25. I’ve been Everywhere by Johnny Cash
  26. Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan

The list is based on both research I’ve done and personal favorites. A few of the songs aren’t really my taste overall but they appear on several “road trip songs” lists. A couple may not be Rock n Roll but, it’s my list! And I could go on, and on, and on. Since I decided to start with ZZ Top, I had to save the best for last, Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan!

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Badlands National Park

On all sides, the land looks like a typical South Dakota prairie as you approach. Then, suddenly, you see the badlands! Cliffs, peaks, valleys, desert-looking, etc. It’s really an amazing view of these “bad” lands. Badlands National Park in South Dakota lies east of the Black Hills. (By the way, there are similar badlands in North Dakota. They make up part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Montana.)

As you drive into the park, you see scenes like this. In my case, the prairie on the right side and the badlands on the left. Almost shocking transformation. The word “Badlands” comes from the Lakota word “mako sica,” which literally translates to “land bad”. When the French fur traders and explorers came on the scene, they called it “les mauvaises terres a traverse” or “bad lands to traverse.” The national park encompasses 244,000 acres. The National Park Services designated it as a park in 1978.

Illustrating prairie and peaks

In another age, about 75 million years ago, an ancient shallow sea covered the area. The sea receded and left various sediment that formed the land as it is today. Erosion by water and wind continues to shape these lands. The Lakota people discovered bones and shells from sea life.

Some areas are rocks and formations, but the park also includes native prairie among the rock formations. One picture shows more prairie than formations and the other vice versa. Before posting to the public blog, I need to review my pictures again. In the editing process, I lost some clarity. That’s the fun part of providing premium subscribers early content and then doing updates over time.

I’ll look for improvements in a few of the pictures and recheck my selections. I believe my unedited photos have a few with more color. Currently, you will have to take my word for it! Anyway, the views are amazing!

The park is such a contrast from the area around it. Amazing when you come upon it. When visiting the Black Hills, try to make the time to head east a bit and see this gem.

The chimney-like peaks in the park

In places, the land looks like several plateaus stacked on top of each other. The “chimney rocks” on top make them resemble castles. The park contains many different formations. There are too many different kinds to include pictures of all of them here. Again, I’ll recheck my originals.

And then steep cliff-like, rugged formations…

Formations of cliffs and ridges
Cliff-like rock with erosion formed ridges

Geologists believe about 500,000 years ago, three rivers, the Bad River, the White River, and the Cheyenne River, began eroding the formations. That erosion continues today. Today’s geologists calculate the badlands recede about 1 inch per year. I’m sure someone will let us know if that accelerates, but it’s unlikely that we will notice!

By the way, Badlands doesn’t have a monopoly on these geographic formations. Other US states contain “badlands” as well. For example; Little Missouri Badlands: Theodore Roosevelt National Park & Surroundings, North Dakota; Toadstool Geologic Park: Pine Ridge Escarpment, Nebraska; Hell’s Half Acre: Wind River Basin, Wyoming; Blast-Zone “Badlands”: Mount St. Helens, South Washington Cascades; The Painted Desert: Arizona; and Zabriskie Point: Death Valley, California.

The Badlands appear in movies as well. Parts of Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner took place here. Starship Troopers used the area to depict the surface of an alien planet. And Armaggedon used it as the surface of an asteroid.

Location in South Dakota

Location

The park lies just south of Wall, SD, and east of the Black Hills. Access from I-90 to the north is a quick 15-minute drive. South Dakota highway 377 provides interior access. (The highway passes through the park but there is only one off-ramp.) The main entrance is 75 miles east of Rapid City and off Exit 110 of I-90. If you are traveling from the east, Exit 131 off I-90 also enters the park. Although there are other places to drive, SD highway 240 makes up the Badlands Loop Highway. It’s the most popular place to view the park, especially if you have limited time.

Looks like other national parks?

While each national park is unique, parts of Theodore Roosevelt Park in North Dakota are very similar. In fact, those are called Badlands as well. Medicine Rocks State Park in Montana contains similar terrain. Two other places in Montana also appear as badlands; Makoshika State Park and Terry Badlands Wilderness Study Area. New Mexico also provides a home to Lybrook Badlands and Bisti Wilderness Area. Bisti lies near the Four Corners area within the Navajo Nation.

The Painted Desert (part of the Petrified Forest National park) in Arizona not only borders Route 66 but also resides in the Navajo Nation. That’s a great visit as well.

Classic Rock Recollection

“Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers
“On the day I was born
The nurses all gathered ’round
And they gazed in wide wonder
At the joy they had found
The head nurse spoke up
And she said, “leave this one alone”
She could tell right away
That I was bad to the bone.”

Written by: George Thorogood – What do you expect for “bad” lands. Really more blues sound than rock but blues and other music are the roots of rock.

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Bishop Castle

Quirky places along the road

Quirky places on Eastern Trip

The Eastern 26 included about 30 quirky attractions. I enjoy visiting these places, and apparently many people do as they are often crowded! A couple of years ago, I published a post about visiting the quirkiest place in each of the Lower 48 and Washington DC. Here’s a link to that post. To partly prove my point that many people enjoy visiting these places, here’s a link to a best-selling book, Atlas Obscura. Some of the places I visited are included in the book. I hope you enjoy the quirky attractions as much as I do!

Muffler Man – Various versions found in many places in the US.

These fiberglass statues first appeared to advertise a muffler brand. Many have their hands in the same position to hold a muffler. They have also been painted in more recent years to look like something other than muffler advertising. For example, there are several Paul Bunyans on Route 66. One of them is in Illinois, and the other is on campus at Northern Arizona State University by their sports stadium. Appropriately, their teams are named the Lumberjacks!

And there’s a Harley Davidson man in Illinois as well as a Rocket Man. The Muffler Men became a reality in the 1960s. Originally fourteen feet tall, the company later acquired a 20-foot mold. Today, less than 200 still exist. The company made thousands of molds, including animals, objects, and people. The manufacturer only existed from 1963 to 1974.

Midwest Quirky visits

Here are seven quirky attractions in the Midwest. Of course, there are more, but these are the ones I visited.

Wisconsin

I found a couple of them in Wisconsin at the beginning of the trip. Follow along for more; Wisconsin is just the start.

Haunted Mansion in Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells continues to be a great vacation spot for families. Of course, it does contain its share of quirky places. The Haunted Mansion is one of them. It’s not really an old mansion, just built to look like one and to scare kids! The “downtown” area contains several others as well, but I’m only sharing this one. Unless you are from the Midwest and have young kids, I don’t recommend it very highly. (My grandkids really enjoyed their time there!)

By the way, I thought Elvis had left the building!

There are water parks, water skiing shows, lakes, etc., for family enjoyment. There are even a couple more quirky attractions like the Wizard Quest and Witches Gulch. Even an “Upside down White House” exists here, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself!

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee

The Bronz Fonz

To “honor” The Fonz, played by Henry Winkler in the Happy Days TV sitcom in the 70s. The series is set in Milwaukee. The statue is one of many sights and attractions in Milwaukee’s downtown Riverfront area. Actually, the Milwaukee Riverwalk area is a great use of a downtown river. Blocks of shops, restaurants, bars, and, of course, the Bronz Fonz! The sitcom, based in the 1950s and early 60s, featured Milwaukee and “Midwestern values.”

While the show nearly got canceled after the first year, it went on to be number one ranked in Season Three and ran for 11 years! And spinoffs such as Laverne and Shirley; and Mork and Mindy had successes of their own.

Indiana

Now, things get a bit more strange in Indiana.

The Guinness-certified world record ball of paint “hangs around” in rural Alexandria, Indiana. The ball hangs from an industrial strength hook in a specially constructed building. The bottom right picture (above) shows the original baseball. Mike Carmichael, the father, encouraged his toddler son to paint the baseball with blue house paint on January 1, 1977. Initially, Mike planned to paint 1,000 coats and then cut it in half to see what it looked like.

Each coat of paint is a different color, so cutting it drew his curiosity, but then he just wanted to keep it going. The picture (top, right) shows the current count of the number of coats and a folding chair to give the ball a sense of scale. As the ball grew, visitors poured in, and many wanted to paint a coat themselves. Mike, in his soft-spoken way, encourages visitors to add a coat. He keeps 5-gallon buckets of paint handy for that purpose.

If you want more information, here’s a link to Roadside America, a website that documents many, many attractions along roads all over America. The site mentions celebrity visitors as well, specifically naming the Oak Ridge Boys. By the way, the location lies about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis. Worth a visit if you are in the area. (The Carmichael’s request that you call for an appointment, although I hadn’t seen that request! But, if you visit, please call 765-724-4088 to schedule a time.)

Maybe Elvis visited here as well since he’s no longer “In the Building”!

Still in Indiana

And this one is truly unique!

Indiana also provides a home to the Grave in the Middle of the Road. Apparently, many people believe this is one of the stranger places to visit. As is typical, the gravesite has innocent, logical reasons for being where it is. When Nancy Kerlin Barnett died in 1831 at the age of 38, she requested burial on a quiet hillside near their home.

All was fine until the early 1900s, when the county decided to build a road directly over the gravesite. County highway officials planned to relocate the grave to a nearby location. Her grandson took exception and stood watch over the grave with a shotgun! Eventually, the county gave in and built the road on each side of the grave. Back then, the grave existed as a burial mound. After several accidents that damaged the mound, the county negotiated with the remaining family members to rebuild the road, bury the remains deeper, including a plaque at curb height level, and mark the location with a sign on the side of the road.

Shockingly, when exhuming the remains, six other remains were found! Apparently, the grave became a family graveyard. As the road rebuilding completed, all the remains were buried deeper, with the plaque and sign staying in place.

Kentucky

My trip took me into northern Kentucky for several stops. (More on the other stops later in The Driveby Tourist blog.)

Several road-tripping sites ranked Bone Lick State Park as a quirky place to visit. Although the second and third pictures on the top can convey that impression, the Park contains an archeological site. Those two pictures playfully display the way these extinct species could have appeared in prehistoric times. Inside, the museum displays some of the actual findings and explains the purpose of the site.

The National Park Service designated the area as a Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail Site. William Clark visited the area in 1807 as part of the Lewis and Clark expedition ordered by President Thomas Jefferson. Because of that visit, the area bills itself as the birthplace of American paleontology.

Call it quirky, historic, or an archeological treasure, but it’s a good place to visit. There is something for everyone, as the area includes a nature trail to many of the excavated areas as well as a picnic area and a 62-site campground. And it’s located about 25 miles from Cincinnati, OH.

Ohio

Here are a couple of quirky attractions in Ohio.

I’m sure you’ve always wanted to see the world’s largest cuckoo clock! Here it is in Sugarcreek, OH, a town of just over 2,000 people. The town claims the name of “Little Switzerland.” In 1977, a 23 feet tall by 24 feet wide cuckoo clock received the Guinness Book of Records certification as the world’s largest. The bird pops out on the hour and the half-hour and “does its thing.” Then, wooden figures of people come out on a conveyor. Two people twirl around dancing while five wooden figures play Switzerland polka music.

Construction of the clock completed in 1972, and it sat in the nearby town of Wilmot. In 2010 when the restaurant that owned it permanently closed, a Sugarcreek businessman bought it, had it moved to Sugarcreek, and donated it to the city. The clock resumed its cuckooing duties in November 2012!

It’s right on Main Street and open to the public for no charge. People gather every half hour to see the show. It’s a great little town located about 30 miles southeast of Canton, OH.

Next Ohio Attraction

Longaberger Basket Company
Former headquarters of the Longaberger Basket company

The Longaberger Basket company failed in 2018. Revenue peaked in 2000 at $1 billion. Sales decreased slowly until 2015, when business operations took a more drastic turn. The company sold the building to an investor. Eventually, the company ceased operations. Another company bought the rights to the product and is selling them online (like everything else these days!)

In 1997, the founder met with architects to discuss design for the company’s new headquarters. After initial discussions, the CEO left the conference room and returned with the basket that became the pattern for the new building. He placed the basket on the table and said, “This is what I want; if you can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can!”

By the end of 1997, 500 headquarters employees moved into the building. And all was great until sales started to decrease in 2000. It was a slow, crushing death for the company. After Dave Longaberger, the founder, died of cancer in 1999, management decisions, some of his and some of his daughters, who took over the company, came back to bite them.

The building sold in 2017 to a developer with plans to build a luxury hotel or a private exclusive club, or maybe even another corporate headquarters. Several plans fell through, and the building is now on the market again, with an uncertain future.

Newark, OH, where the building is located, is only 30 miles from Columbus. The town has a population of about 50,000 and now houses an Amazon distribution center, and Facebook is planning a large data center.Maybe Amazon should buy the building and start selling the baskets from the new company!

Classic Rock Recollection

“Graveyard Train” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

For the graveyard, thirty boxes made of bone.
For the graveyard, thirty boxes made of bone.
Mister undertaker, take this coffin from my home.

In the midnight, hear me cryin’ out her name.
In the midnight, hear me cryin’ out her name.
I’m standin’ on the railroad, waitin’ for the graveyard train.

Written by: John Fogerty

Mid-Atlantic Quirky Attractions

Although I found a few more locations in this area, some were either closed or not what I wanted to write about. For example, Foamhenge in Virginia is “COVID-closed” and not visible from any public road.

Extra Quirky picture
Foamhenge Virginia

I found this royalty-free picture on a website. The place is definitely quirky but it’s “COVID-closed”. It’s in Virginia on private property. A local businessman hired artist Mark Cline of Enchanted Castle Studio to build it. In 2022, Foamhenge “may” be open in Spring and Summer. The current schedule calls for an opening during the Cox Farms Fall Festival and Fields of Fear festival.

Foamhenge came into reality in 2004 on rent-free public land. Mark Cline said construction took 10 days as opposed to 1,000 years for the original Stonehenge! The configuration stayed until 2016 when the area where it stood became a state park.

Initially, Cline stored the pieces until he found a place to erect them again. Cox Farms near Centreville VA agreed to take Foamhenge. The reassembled Foamhenge became a public display during the farms festivals and certain days in the summer. Anyway, I’m sorry I missed it!

West Virginia

Continuing my journey, I found my way to Point Pleasant WV. The legend of the Mothman continues to endure its mythically beginning in 1966. The mysterious creature “appeared” soaring around a former World War II munitions site north of Mount Pleasant. The Mothman’s origins come from everything from aliens to military experiments to supernatural to a widely supported hoax.

Of course, the town seized the opportunity to publicize itself. A Mothman statue stands in the center of town. A Mothman museum and gift shop stand on the corner next to the statue. The presence of the 12-foot tall polished steel statued assures that the legend lives on and future sightings are inevitable!

Personally, I found the attraction to be underwhelming. Although, it can be viewed as “must-see”, don’t go out of your way to see it unless it’s on your bucket list!

Delaware

While I initially tried to see at least one quirky attraction in every state, I decided some of them were too far from my path or not worth the time to get there. But here’s one in Delaware.

Steampunk Tree House
Steampunk Tree House (Image obtained from website. No copyright infringement is intended.)

The Steampunk Tree House stands outside Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales in Milton DE. The tree house represents a mutually beneficial relationship between businesses and the environment. The tree house contains mostly recycled materials.

The Dogsfish Head Brewery in Milton DE displays this sculpture. The sculpture appeared at several festivals before finding a permanent home at this brew pub. The Tree House is not open to the public unless you pay for a brewery tour. I did not want to pay for the tour. Writing about it kept my appetite for quirky attractions!

More Delaware

Modern Day Pirate Ship

The Sea Gypsy V creates a lot of “Arrrrr” and bawdy tales for evening cruises. During the day, it’s the kids’ turn to play pirate. Back a few years ago, the ship owner developed the pirate idea to attract visitors and make a living doing something fun for people.

Lewes, DE, features a “real” pirate ship. You and your group can buy tickets or rent the whole boat for private parties. (That’s pronounced like “Lewis,” by the way.) The landing spot is close to the Lewes-Cape May Ferry terminal.
 
Sunset Cruise
 
Their evening cruise is their premiere charter. Enjoy a 2-hour cruise aboard the Sea Gypsy V. The cruise starts at dusk and proceeds into the Delaware Bay. A group can book the sunset cruise for a party of at least 20 people.
 
The sunset cruise is BYOB and BYOF. The cruise is adults only and includes the same type of fun as the other cruises. Especially on the sunset cruise, enjoy singing along with a lot of traditional pirate songs. (Of course, you must say “Arrrrr” a lot!)

Scheduled cruises
 
The Sea Gypsy V sails at 9:30 AM, 11:30 AM, and 1:30 PM, and those cruises cost $35. A free Pirate Sword and Eye Patch are provided for all children. The afternoons are available for private charters for special events like birthday parties, wedding events, anniversary celebrations, and family reunions. The charter cost is currently $1350.
 
Associated comments
 
By the way, if you want more “pirate” experiences, many of the renaissance festivals around the country include them. For example, Minnesota’s festival saw the introduction of “Puke N Snot” in 1974. All the pirate jokes and double entendres you need (or want)!
 

Classic Rock Recollection

“People are Strange” by The Doors

People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down

When you’re strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you’re strange
No one remembers your name


Written by John Paul Densmore, Robert A Krieger, Ray Manzarek, and Jim Morrison

New-England Quirky Fun Attractions

The New England states have their own quirky locations. A couple of them may not be in the “quirky” category, but my travel research said they were! My features lie in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. So, here we go with the New-England Quirky Fun Attractions! Sorry about the first one! I couldn’t resist even though it’s just a… ok, wait for it. Here’s a link to my first quirky post about the Eastern 26 states.

New-England Quirky Fun Attractions
The Big Blue Bug

Apparently, Rhode Island is bereft of quirky attractions as this one makes several lists as the best in the state. It’s a giant blue bug on top of an exterminator business. It’s in Providence, close to the state capital and other stops. Of course, nothing in Rhode Island is too far from anything else!

Lizzie Borden’s father and step-mother died of ax injuries on August 4th, 1892. Lizzie, 32 years old at the time, stood accused of the murders. A jury acquitted her of the murders. Police found no other clues other than the ones they presented to the jury. 

To this day, no one knows for sure what happened. Of course, most assume Lizzie did the killing and “got away with it”. All the usual stories about the house being haunted persist. 

The house really is a bed and breakfast. The museum part of it adds revenue to support the maintenance and continuing restoration of the house. Here’s a link to the house.

New Hampshire

The name is misleading, it doesn’t look anything like Stonehenge, but it is an ancient site of manmade rock settings arrayed around the sun’s direction at the solstices. According to archeological methods, the structures are around 4,000 years old. 

The question remains if they were built by Native American people or some unknown European people. It may be European due to many features similar to rock structures and ancient writings found in Ireland, England, and other parts of Europe.

Vermont

aaa

Burlington VT

New-England Quirky Fun Places
Tallest File Cabinet

Of course, there is a story behind this one. There always is! In 1965, officials proposed a roadway to connect I-87 to downtown Burlington with a controlled access road. 

As of this writing (January 2022), the road has never been built. However, when the monument was built in 2002, the 38 drawer file cabinet represented 38 years of futile paperwork and bureaucratic nightmare. The count is now at 51 years and climbing as the project is still on the books!

Just another New-England Quirky Fun Attractions place.

More Burlington

While I couldn’t get a good picture of them, Burlington has statues of winged monkeys on the former Union train station! The building now houses the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center. Formally, the monkeys graced a futon store called “The Emerald City”. At one time, only one monkey graced the building. When that monkey disappeared (as in stolen), another monkey made its appearance. Then, the first monkey came back!

Now, the Burlington newspaper reported a few years ago that the monkeys had twins! So, now they have four monkeys. All in fun, of course.

But more seriously (??), Lake Champlain continues to get credit for having a monster in it’s depths. Much like the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. Burlington hosts a statue of the creature along with a carved stone monument to explain the phenomenon! But, every place has its oddities!

Classic Rock Recollection

“The Thing That Should Not Be” by Metallica

Messenger of fear in sight
Dark deception kills the light
Hybrid children watch the sea
Pray for father, roaming free

Fearless wretch
Insanity
He watches
Lurking beneath the sea


Written by: James Alan Hetfield, Kirk L. Hammett, Lars Ulrich

Southeastern US Weird Places

The Driveby Tourist visits Southeastern US Weird Places. And, why wouldn’t I do that? Of course, I did see other places but these are fun stops. Of course, some are “weirder” than others! I have seven stops to show and tell you about. I certainly hope you enjoy them! And here’s a link to the most recent post and to a summary of all five quirky attraction posts.

Winston-Salem North Carolina

Southeastern US Weird Places
Shell Shaped Gas Station Relic

Winston-Salem hosts an ancient Shell gas station with the front shaped like a shell. Evidently, it’s the last remaining station like this. While it stands in a run-down neighborhood, the city takes pains to maintain it in its current state. Preservation North Carolina holds covenants on the property to assure the survival of the clamshell.

The local shell distributors built seven of them in Winston-Salem and another nearby Kernersville. The shell itself became a regional office for Preservation North Carolina but now remains a shrine unto itself. While the building remains a museum, the service station shows antique photos, old Shell signs, miscellaneous antique cans, and a tin of vintage Monkey Grip Patch. The building’s hours of operation didn’t allow me to see the inside.

I considered this one of the Southeastern US Weird Places! And wish I could have gone inside.

Entering South Carolina

South of the Border entertains travelers as it has since 1949. While South of the Border evolved, the place started as a liquor store just across the border from North Carolina. At the time, North Carolina remained a “dry” state, so business boomed. Soon, a ten-seat grill opened, followed by 20 motel rooms. Since people referred to the business as “south of the border”, the name became official in 1954.

Meanwhile, business steadily expanded and added a Mexican theme to build on the “south of the border” name. In 1964, plans for Interstate 95 introduced South of the Border to the “Great American Interstate System.” Since I-95 passed closely by, the current owners erected the 104-foot tall “Pedro”, the mascot. All of a sudden, the area became a town, with its own Post Office and zip code. (Actually, the nearby town of Hamer is the address.)

South of the Border includes shopping, dining, attractions, hotel, RV campground, gas stations, grocery store, and a truck stop. And, the area contains a convention center! Since I-95 is the major interstate on the East Coast, lots of traffic passes by the area. If you are in the area, be sure to stop!

Georgia & another of the Southeastern US Weird Places

Of course, The Tree that Owns Itself becomes a must-stop when traveling in the area. The tree stands in Athens GA, home of the University of Georgia. While the real story remains more folklore than fact, only one person other than the owner, William Jackson, claims to have seen the actual deed.

While there is no legal “ownership of itself”, the city of Athens maintains and protects the tree, due to the folklore surrounding its story. The legal description puts the tree in the right of way along Finley Street. The city adopted a policy to maintain it as a public street tree.

Actually, the tree’s life began in the late 16th century to the late 18th century. The original tree fell in 1942 either due to a windstorm or dying from root rot. A new tree grew from an acorn of the original tree and sometimes takes the name of “Son of the Tree That Owns Itself”. Both trees appear in numerous national publications. And the tree remains a local landmark.

And, another of the Southeastern US Weird Places stays in place!

Georgia – Southeastern US Weird Places

The Georgia Guidestones monument remains a mystery after 40 years. Here’s a link to an overview. In 1979, a man using the pseudonym of R. C. Christian approached the Elberton Granite Finishing Company on behalf of “a small group of loyal Americans”. Above all, the group remains anonymous to this day. The group commissioned the structure. And Christian delivered a scale model and 10 pages of specifications.

While Joe Fendley of Elberton Granite initially labeled Mr. Christian a “nut”, his inflated quote immediately became the actual price. And Mr. Fendley discovered that Mr. Christian created a perpetuity account at the local bank to support ongoing maintenance and repair. And the site did get vandalized several times since the year 2000.

The ten principles outlined suggest they apply to a post-apocalyptic world. Of course, they’ve been the subject of controversy and conspiracy theories. To demonstrate, the principles appear in eight current languages and four ancient writing forms. Specifically, they include  Babylonian cuneiform, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics. And English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, and Russian.

And so it goes! Stop and see it if you can.

Atlanta Southeastern US Weird Places

Tiny Doors of Atlanta serves to focus on the burgeoning Atlanta Arts Community. The project to create 7-inch doors started with artist Karen Anderson Singer’s idea to promote the arts in Atlanta. However, she needed an “in”, which she obtained through her persistence with local arts organizations. And now, she’s the Founding Director and Principal Artist of Tiny Door ATL.

Currently, there are over 25 of these doors located around Atlanta. And in various art forms. While the one above is painted, others are made of wood and attached to something in their location. But only one actually opens! And Door #658 is numbered as such as it’s 658 times 7 inches! And the one pictured above at the Visitor Center at Centennial Olympic Park occurred due to collaboration with the Lotus Eaters Club of Atlanta.

While there are, of course, thousands of attractions, sights, art, etc. in Atlanta, if you are interested make note of the locations and one of them may be near one of your destinations. Here is a link to the website.

Real (but quirky) Florida location

Since this place lie along my route, I had to stop to see this one. Although not really a quirky place, I considered it one of the Southeastern US Weird Places because I could make a point of the beautiful view from the “top of the mountain!” Florida has the lowest high elevation of any state.

In fact, if the oceans rose 100 feet, much of Florida would be underwater! Although that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, Florida and other low-lying areas need to plan for oceans rising to some future level.

Alabama Southeastern US Weird Places

My last stop for quirky attractions in the Southeastern US came up as Bamahenge! This one is a quirky attraction. Bamahenge takes the stone sizes from Stonehenge but it isn’t a complete replica. The stones are made of fiberglass, weighted with concrete, and set into concrete pads with telephone poles.

Since the site contains only the explanation shown above, the same questions get asked about it as the original Stonehenge. So, How did it get there? Who Built It? Why?

Bamahenge stands aligned correctly with the summer solstice as Stonehenge does. The artist used only four different stone shapes. And with clever flipping and repositioning, all of them look different.

Classic Rock Recollection

“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers, from the album “South of the Border”

Well, I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name
Catfish are jumpin’, that paddle wheel thumpin’
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same

Written by: Patrick Simmons

Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch – Going after it

I’m approaching the end of the trip. It’s been a good run. This Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch makes the great trip continue. Again, I saw much between the last quirky stop in the South and the first one on this post. I focused on other attractions. Why don’t you follow this link to earlier quirky attractions post here? Of course, then find a post to all the quirky attractions here.

Kentucky and the Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch

Small town Munfordville, KY, hosts Kentucky’s Stonehenge. In fact, Munfordville native Chester Fryer built it with rocks he found scouring nearby Hatcher Valley for appropriate rocks. He moved them from their location to his Munfordville estate. In addition, his estate hosts other rock displays, including Earth Mysteries, The Garden of Gethsemane, Rock Gardens, and Rock Park.

Of course, you can visit any time from dawn to dusk. But, please do not touch or climb on the rocks. There is a display of rocks and flowers near the house, including a donation box. And, he appreciates donations! Here’s a link to the site.

Metropolis Illinois

Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch
Giant Superman Statue in Metropolis IL

In 1973 Metropolis, IL commissioned comic book artist Neal Adams to develop ideas for an “Amazing World of Superman” theme park. Interestingly, the design included a 200-foot-tall statue of the “Man of Steel.” In the light of cost estimates of $30 million, the building of the park never happened. In 1986, the town commissioned a cheesy seven-foot-tall statue made of fiberglass.

Even the townspeople didn’t like it. All of a sudden, vandals mocked the Man of Steel with bullet holes! Eventually, the perforated Superman disappeared, replaced in 1993 with the current 15-foot-tall statue. Funding came from engraved bricks purchased by local citizens for $35 each. However, with a cost of $120,000, approximately 3,400 people bought bricks in this town of 6,700!

The current statue consists of bronze, deflecting most incoming speeding bullets! The statue construction company also built the giant Emmy outside the Television Hall of Fame in Hollywood. Just another of the Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch attractions!

The family-owned and operated museum located on Superman Square stands close by. Above all, the museum features over 70,000 sites from the life’s work of longtime Superman enthusiast Jim Hambrick. The museum showcases nearly every Superman toy ever produced and movie props and promotional material from the movies and TV series.

Casey IL – Heart of the Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch

Most noteworthy, the town of Casey, IL, features 12 certified World’s largest items and other big things. Consequently, they have the 12 world records. Significantly, the number fluctuates as they build more and as other places build something larger. Of course, this link to Casey IL tells you all about the town. In addition to the 12 world records, they also feature more than 20 “big things.” The list includes a mousetrap, pizza slicer, a birdcage, knitting needles, a crochet hook, and many others.

In 2011, Casey unveiled the Guinness World Records certified largest wind chimes. Jim Bolin, a local businessman, wanted to do something for the community he called home and supported his business. Following the building of the wind chimes, other attractions opened for viewing. At this point, twelve items are certified world records. Particularly they include Wind Chimes, Rocking Chair, Pitchfork, Golf Tee, Wooden Shoes, Mailbox, Key, Gavel, Swizzle Spoon, Golf Driver, Barber Pole, and Teeter Totter.

The idea turning into reality brought business to the town. Although the population still decreased over time, the economy improved as people visited the town to see all the objects. Indeed, the townspeople welcome all visitors.

Riverside Iowa – Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch

Lastly, or nearly lastly, Riverside, IA, comes up on the map. As a matter of fact, the attraction started as a semi-serious suggestion by Steve Miller, a town councilman and a Trekkie in Riverside, IA. At this point, the town council said, “Ok Steve, it’s your idea, go ahead and contact Gene Rodenberry about using the reference!” (Gene Rodenberry created the Star Trek brand.) Surprisingly, Rodenberry said, “No one ever asked before. Go ahead!”. (I’m sure there were some documents passed back and forth, but essentially, that’s it.)

After that, the town constructed the sign in the picture above. Soon, the town altered its slogan from “Where the best begins” to “Where the Trek begins”. The annual summer festival changed from River Fest to Trek Fest!

In Star Trek lore, Iowa received identification of Captain Kirk’s birthplace but no city got the credit. Of course, Steve Miller said, “Why not us?” And the rest is history, or, no, the rest is the future! Miller’s inspiration became official in the May 2009 reboot Star Trek movie where Riverside, IA received identification of the birthplace! By the way, March 22nd is William Shatner’s real birthday!

Waterloo Iowa – more of the Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch

Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch
Charles Manson Intersection

Although it looks like it, this doesn’t have anything to do with Charles Manson, the streets obtained the names “Charles” and “Manson” long before the Charles Manson murders happened. It’s still kind of a spooky name for an intersection.

And home after the Quirky Wonderful Home Stretch

By the way, my last picture taken as I returned home. What a long strange trip it has been!

Classic Rock Recollection

“Giant” by Gentle Giant

The birth of a realisation
The rise of a high expectation
Together successful, defiant
Together the parts make a Giant

Written by: Shulman / Minnear

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