I grew up in a town with a muffler man. If you’ve ever seen one, you know what I’m talking about. These are BIG fellows.
Once upon a time, back in the 50s and 60s there was a remarkably weird public interest in producing large roadside attractions using gigantic statuary like the muffler dude.During college, a friend and I embarked on a series of roadtrips, many of which located the remnants of these interesting tourist lures. Historic Route 66 is virtually littered with this sort of stuff. We visited several dinosaur retreats throughout the west, all of them creative and terribly inaccurate. Every time a tourist takes a picture of one of these creations, a Palaeontologist somewhere cries. They’re so horrible, I just love them.
Way up in northern California is a place called Trees of Mystery. Nearby are Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe. No, I have no idea why Paul and his four-legged friend are there, but the scenery is spectacular and the trees are mysterious. You should go. Don’t forget the drive-in Tipi Motel (nowhere near the tribes that actually lived in this type of housing). For years I tried to get my friends to stay in one of these when we traveled – ironically the only ones who would, were also Native (great sense of humor).
Moqui Cave in Kenab, Utah offers a unique experience, including faux dinosaur tracks. It’s had several incarnations, including the current fake Anasazi Ruin treatment. I’ve seen this in various locations (the fake ones are really lame by comparison to the real ones). Don’t even get me started on the Ice Caves. *facepalm* Then there were the visits to the Giant Orange for drinks and the Giant Lemon for cookies, and we can’t forget the famous Doggie Diner for…yes, you’ve guessed it…hotdogs.
Planning a trip? Be sure to check out Roadside America, home of America’s best attractions and oddities to make sure you don’t miss the good stuff. They also have an official Muffler Man Registry, in case you have one to report. There were lots of other interesting roadside places: the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, giant Milk Bottles, the largest ball of string (or was it twine?), Octopus Windmills, outlandish penguins, freakishly large furniture, enormous statues of all sorts, and even Muffler Men disguised as Indians and Cowboys and Aliens…good stuff.
BIG good stuff. Great memories.
Remember something large and spectacularly kitsche from a childhood vacation? Ever order from one of the Giant Orange stands? Hear about the mythical Alligator Po-Boy Stand (if so, please provide directions)?