Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quest for Quirky Americana Pop Culture Landmarks III: Week 2

Day 8

I went to the Warden Show last night. It wasn't all that great. The Ranger was a bit too happy about her job. As I was driving back into the camp site, not wanting to bother the other campers, I turned off my headlights and was just using the parking lights. I hit the picnic table at full speed. Turns out the wagon is built stronger than the concrete bench. I got out to survey the damage and locked my keys in the car. As much as it pains me to say this. I had to use the Hide-A-Key that Mr. Ertel made me bring...

I drove up to Lake Louise today and took my first ever gondola ride to the top of the mountain. It was quite a bit high. On my way down I was a bit more daring and took an open chair lift down. When you ride one of these things up a mountain, all you get to see is the hill in front of you and it does not seem all that high. On the way down the mountain all you see is DOWN. It was like I was in a slow moving free fall for 10 minutes.

Upon my return to Banff I went to the Cave and Basin. The birth place of Canada's Parks. It was here in 1883 that three rail road workers found the hot mineral water flowing from the mountain that, in turn, turned into Banff National Park. I walked up the hill to the vent of the cave and then down the bottom to the inside of the cave. The water that was coming out was rather cold. The hot water stopped flowing out of here a few years after the opening of the park. They did have signs around that said "Caution, water is radioactive" I thought to my self what a pleasant thing to know.

My next stop at the Upper Hot Springs where you can go for a swim in the hot mineral water of Banff. It comes out of the ground at 114 degrees F. They cool it to 104 F... it was quite a relaxing swim.

I then walked down to Bow Falls and saw a herd of Elk, (or Moose, or Caribou) it's hard for me to tell when they don't have their antlers on.

I walked down to the Hoodoos again and took some more pictures. I am going to the Ranger show again to night, different Ranger, different topic. While waiting for it to start I will be writing post card to "B".

Day 9

The Ranger show tonight was better. It was about the wildlife that live above the tree line. After the show he told us that there are three bears in camp and to watch out, and lock up our food. It was lightning out and the Ranger assured us that it was not going to rain. He said that "the sky was full of stars, it's not going to rain."

It rained. No, make that, poured. The inside of my tent was very wet. Luckily my pillow made a good sponge to keep me from getting wet...

I went back to the Upper Hot Springs for another swim this morning. It was cold out side and the steam coming off the water made it almost impossible to see your hand. The only real stop today was the World's Largest Starship Enterprise in where else, Vulcan, AB. All the signs in Vulcan County had a starship enterprise hanging on the upper right. The thing measured 31 feet long, depth of 9 feet and the primary saucer was 15 wide. Over all, it has a weight of 5 tons. The one thing that I kept asking myself is, " why are all the measurements on English instead of metric?". They even had "I've beamed to Vulcan" T Shirts for sale.

By far, the most interesting road sign that have ever seen was "Caution, run away logging trucks crossing highway"

I am now in Waterton / Glassier Park in Montana. You've got to love a state whose speed limit is "Prudent and Reasonable". I crossed over in the town of Carway, AB, population two and a cat. And the town of Pigeon, MT, population 8 custom officials. It's a good thing I crossed when I did, because they close the border around here at 10:00PM

38 Postcard today, 8 went to "B"

By the way I received a email from the town of Blackduck, MN thanking me for visiting them. Here it is. (It also has some corrections on it.):

Hey there...
The Blackduck Mayor, Milton Beck, and City Clerk, Dave Decker, told me about your visit...I was out of the office when you were here. Milton wanted me to check your web page for him as he was interested in what you had to say.

Yes, some time ago, the rifle was removed from the "black duck" display just as the woman at the Tourist Info Center said, because folks in general thought it detracted from the quality of the display. And yes, we're "daffy about ducks" as the name of our town, BLACKDUCK, is unusual...so why not have a bit of fun with it?!! The name originally came from Blackduck Lake, named for all the black mallard flocks that used to frequent the area. I'm not certain of this, but there was also an American Indian tribe--either Blackfoot or Blackduck--and also the Laurel Indian tribes that settled around the Blackduck Lake area.

Two clarifications: our Police Chief's name is Jeff, not Mark, and Dave is the City Clerk, not City Manager. Thanks for visiting our community--we are very proud of the Blackduck community--about 800 folks within the city limits, and about 5,000 residents within the school district. I prefer to define our community by the school district boundaries simply because "Blackduck" does not end at the city limits.

FYI--Jody Johnson, Blackduck City Planner

If you want to Jody's email address to send her an email to put the rifle back on display, let me know, Ill give you her email address.

Day 10

It got rather cold last night, and it's quite windy in the morning. I drove up the "Going to Sun Road" to the top of the mountain of the same name. For the third time this trip, I have crossed the Continental Divide. I did find a small glassier and tried to climb it. My feet kept on sinking.

As I was leaving the Park I had the laptop on charge. That little "Thomas Magnum" voice in that back of my head kept on telling me to plug in the radar detector. I could not find the cable to plug both of them in, so I opted for the laptop. That little voice that I never listen to, kept on telling me that the radar detector should be plugged in. My answer was, "I'm in a state with no speed limit why do I need the radar detector?

As I'm driving along, going to get post cards for "B" I see the Park Ranger behind me with his lights on. I'm thinking to myself, that's awfully nice of them I must've forgotten something at the camp site and they're bring it to me. Wrong, I was doing 54 in 25 MHP zone. I was pulling out every trick out of my bag to get out of the ticket, I even tried to trade Fire Company T-Shirts and Police Patches with the guy. The damn Rent-A-Cop-want-to-be still was going to give me a ticket. He did say that he would give me a break and write me for 54 in 45, which I was also doing before the speed limit changed.

As he is writing the ticket, that little "Thomas Magnum" voice came back and said, you don't have to pay the ticket, it's a Park Ranger, what are they going to do, ban you from camping for a year?" "They will never get the money from me," I was thinking, "it's like a parking ticket in Philly." Well, boy was I surprised when he got out and told me that all fines must be paid on the spot or collateral taken. He then tells me that he takes VISA. As I gave him the VISA card to take and have approved (he had a credit card thingie in his car). I was never so pissed off in my life. By the way it cost me $54.00

I'm now driving in the middle of Montana and I see a Historical Marker sign ahead. I pull in and there is no marker. A little bit later I see another one and pull over. This one turned out to be a good one, and fit with in the "Off the Map…" way of thing. It was "Camp Disappointment". (No it has nothing to do with the speeding ticket) It has to do with the Original "Off the Mappers…", Lewis and Clark. Camp Disappointment was the highest north the expedition of 1804-06 ever got, and the farthest west on the Marias Rivers. They where hoping that the Marias River ended above the 49th Parallel, which would have made the Louisiana Purchase much bigger.

penguinThe official stop for today was the Worlds largest Penguin in Cut Bank, MT. It's located out side the Glacier Gateway Inn. The Owner of the Inn, Ron Gustafson made it in the spring of 1989. For those of you who don't know, Cut Bank has the record of being the coldest spot in the nation, and what better way to celebrate it than having a 27 foot tall Penguin at the entrance of your town. Weighing in at over 10,000 LBS and at a cost of $1,000 for the materials, Ron donated his time to make it, this is most definitely the Biggest penguin I have ever seen.

I arrived in Great Falls, MT still not knowing why I wanted to stop here. I asked around and they did not have anything to my liking. They did have the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. I did not spend much time here. The only thing that I found neat about Great Falls, is that I think this is were Jerry Springer gets most of his guests from.

I am now in Billings, MT. As I was coming from the north and through Roundup, I kept on looking for signs for "Justice Township" and The Freemen. Those wacko's from two years ago who had a standoff with the Federal Government. I did not see them and needless to say, I did not ask.

28 post cards. Four to "B"

Day 11

The first two stops today were both lame. The first was Pompey's Pillar NHS, where in 1806 Lewis and Clark wrote their names on the side of it. It is a glass case and hard to read. The second was Home On The Range, ND. It sounded good at the exit ramp. It turned out to be a home/work farm for bad kids. They did have, on the side of a mountain, the world's steepest stations on the cross, for all you religious people.

For last year's trip, I received several Emails telling us to go see the Painted Canyons. They were not near our route. As I was driving along today I came across the Painted Canyons. And the Badlands of ND. I stopped at both places only to find out that they must have been having a senior special. The line at the rest rooms was a mile long. There was more Geritol then you could shake a walker at.

cowAs I was driving East on I-94, I could see from 4 miles away, the World's Largest Cow. I got off at the New Salem, ND exit and followed the signs. The Holstein cow measured 38 feet high and 50 long. It was built in 1974 at a cost of $40,000.00 I could make a comment and about how I was also at the worlds biggest set of TITS, but the would be an UTTER-ly bad joke.

After I left New Salem, the radio started to make these odd noises. It turned out to be the EBS Warning telling everyone about a tornado to the west of us. 34 counties in North Dakota are under a tornado warning. Unfortunately I was unable to see any Super Cell activity. Needless to say I will not be camping out tonight.

The last stop for today was the Pettibone Pagoda. The main road to the town is gravel and I still have stones in my hubcaps. The Pagoda is an old grain elevator, filled with old trinkets and other junk. It has eight floors and looks like it is covered with industrial strength aluminum foil. The man who made it is now dead, and his wife does not let anybody in it. There is also a wooden cow that you can walk in. The lady at the local café said that the guy was a little weird... I asked for the population of Pettibone and was told that "it's been a bad year, we are down to 119 from 122".

12 post cards, 4 to "B". (By the way you can send your own post card to "B" at PO Box 401 Edgemont, PA 19028.)

Day 12

buffaloAfter the fear of tornado's last night, the first thing that I did today was go and see if the local trailer park was still standing. It was, so I took that as no tornado's last night. The World's Largest Buffalo was located near the trailer park here in Jamestown, ND. It is located at the Frontier Village an old historic-I-want-to-be kind of place. It was kind of just one shade of brown and not all that exciting. It could have used some more color or at least some different shades of brown. For the record, it measured 46 feet long and 26 feet high. With a weight of 60 tons.

From the I thought it was going to be a disappointment category: the Largest Stack of Empty Oil Cans in Casselton, ND was not. I pulled into town and asked about it. I thought I was going to get a bunch of weird looks, but they knew what I was taking about and where it was. Loegering Manufacturing is the proud (if not reluctant) owner of the stack. Built in 1933 when a Sinclair gas station used to occupy the land. It measures approximately 45 feet high and a width 18 feet. It was built around an old windmill and has a slight lean to it, "that get bigger every day" according to the receptionist at the plant.

Once back inside Minnesota, where, for the record, most of my stop's are, I ended up at The World's Largest Prairie Chicken. Not trying to sound like the stupid city boy, but prairie chickens are just like regular chickens, but they live in the wild and are an endangered species. Yes, they do lay eggs but you can get them at a KFC. One of the smallest "worlds largest" I have come across, it measured 13 feet high and 18 feet long with a weight of 9,000 pounds. Although if you put it in proportion to the other animals, it could be rather big.

From the name of this next one, I believe it falls into the "I don't believe they Wasted The Money On it" department, it is The World's Oldest Rock in Granite Falls MN. They claim that the exposed granite has been certified by geologists to be over 3,800,000,000 years old. That was in 1976 so we can add 22 more years to it's life. If they went ahead and wasted the money to put up the bronze plaque , they can have the bragging rights. What else should you expect from people who live in county called Yellow Medicine.

The first controversy on the trip. The fight between The Biggest and The Largest Ear of Corn. Today was Olivia, MN's turn. The ear is 25 feet high. The people at city hall were quick to point out that with its pole at the bottom and the monument that it sits on, it is over 50 feet tall. Sorry folks, but you know the rules, Rule number one, bases don't count. But I will say that the people were very nice, and wanted to know about the Biggest Ear of Corn that I will visiting tomorrow.

The only place this trip that I have been led to with official state signs was The Biggest Ball Of Twine in Darwin, MN. Made famous by Weird Al Yankovicks song of the same name. Certified by Guinnesses in 1991 with the measurements of 11 feet high and 40 feet around and weighs over 8.7 tons. It took Francis Johnson over 30 years of his life to build it. Ripley's Believe It or Not had a ball constructed for them that is bigger. But if you remember from last years trip. They are charging $10 a head to see it, and it does not weight that much. Rule number two. If it was made for the purpose of making money, it doesn't count. With that in mind and the fact that all the street signs have a ball of string on them, the award goes to Darwin, MN.

I am now at a free camp site at the base of the Biggest Jolly Green Giant. More to follow tomorrow.

For those of you who don't know, my life-link at the other end of this keyboard is Nick and Jodi. I sit here at night on my (well actually its Lefty's) laptop. All my papers are under the windshield wipers and I am typing with almost no light. I then email updates to Nick and Jodi. First, Jodi spell checks it for me, (for those who don't know me, this is a big job) and Nick then designs using GoLive's CyberStudio software on an Apple PowerMac 7600 and uploads with a cable modem to the website. We hope this year to finally put all the pictures up, so do visit this page often even after the trip. (Thanks again guys.)

13 post cards, 3 to "B" and one to Jodi. Tomorrow I will answer the question "Who is "B"?

Day 13

It poured rain last night. The storm has been following me for three days. I out-drive it during the day, but it catches up with me at night. I experienced a total complete failure of the tent. My lawn chair was carried by the winds and took down the tent. I had to turn the tent inside out to get all the water out. The pillows and sleeping bag will never dry out. To complicate the situation, I pitched my tent on the edge of the drainage area for the parking lot of the Jolly Green Giant. The only good news was that the tent next to me was IN the drainage area.

The World's Largest Jolly Green Giant is located in the Blue Valley. If you remember the TV commercials "From the valley of the Green Giant, HO HO HO…" At a cost of $1,000 per foot and a height of 60 feet, this is the tallest and most expensive road side object that I have seen. They also have a plywood cut out of ""little nibbler" the green giants side kick. They have also added a cutout of the Pillsbury Dough Man. I guess to keep Pillsbury happy -- they bought out Green Giant Vegetables a few years ago.

Owatonna, MN is home to two things. First is Cabela's, The World's Largest Sporting Goods Store. It was rather neat and impressive and don't even like to hunting or fishing. But the major stop was Casey's Jones Locomotive, Number 201. I have found out that the song is only half right. Casey was "driving that train" but he was not "high on cocaine." He was "watching his speed," as a matter of fact he was trying to make up lost time on the cannonball run. There was "trouble ahead" but there was not "trouble behind", and the only thing that crossed his mind was a parked freight train in his way.

I found my self in Preston, MN. Population 1530. For the record, US Route "52" goes through the town. Both Police officers were off for the day and no one was around the fire house. I was unable to get anything that said Preston except some post cards. The people in Preston IA are a lot nicer.

The award for the Biggest Ear of Corn goes to Olivia, MN. The one in Rochester, MN is fifty feet high, but its painted on top of a water tower at the local corn processing plant. I pulled into take pictures and was rather quickly escorted off the grounds by security. They said that I did not have permission to take pictures. So I sat three feet a way from where the security caught me which was now out side the gate and started to take pictures. Security got mad, but I was no longer on their property so they could not do anything.

The World's Largest Six Pack in Lacrosse, WI is a beer that I have never even heard of. Heileman's Old Style. Anyway, the six pack is part of the brewery and all together they hold 688,200 gallons of beer, which at a six pack a day would take you 3,351 years to drink.

Six post cards, one to "B". By the way "B" or Bob as we call him is a friend of mine and a big supporter of "Off the Map…." He is also a big collector of Post cards. He has over 25,000 post cards that he has received. He started his collection in the 5th grade and has been having people send him cards ever since. He is now over 30. You to can brighten up his day by sending him a card at "B" PO Box 401 Edgemont, PA 19028

I almost forgot the Spam Museum. It got its name in 1936 at Mr. Hormel's New Year's Eve party. His had is new canned Spice Ham and someone said SPAM, and the legend was born. The museum is in the local mall and had no one on hand to give you information. One half of it was for Spam and the other half was for other Hormel products. Monty Python paid better homage to Spam.

Day 14

I left the Wisconsin Dells area, It is quite a dump. My first stop was the Lewis and Clarke, NHS in… Well I forget the town, but the place was closed anyway. I was too early.

The big fun today was in Illinois. I had a cup of penny's and other small change that I have collected over the trip. What do you do with $10.00 in penny's? You pay the tolls with them. You drive up to the exact change lane and grab a hand full and throw them in. Keep putting them in till the gate opens. It takes awhile, instead of the machine counting three or four coins, it now have to count 50 of them. Some of them have counters and the counters count down one by one. If one of the toll people is around you can count out loud for the last 10 cents. Even more fun is when they don't have a gate. You throw a handful of change in and drive off. All the bells go off, but don't worry, once its done counting, the bells stop. I did find out in Indiana, you just have to drop three coins, and the gates open.

I stopped at the Mud Hens Base Ball Park in Toledo, OH. It, and the Mud Hens were made famous by Jamie Farr's character, Max Klinger, on the TV show M*A*S*H.

Well, It's the end of week two and I have logged over 6,100 miles. I have stopped almost everywhere on the list, and because I'm by myself this time I'm able to make better time. I still have five days before I'm due back at work. I have done some research on a place that I have always wanted to go. It even required me to find a library in Illinois. Believe it or not, the city that I am now going to is not listed on the Official New York State map. It was the location of World Wide event that all other events have been compared too. Rand McNally does not even list this event on their map.

I have read about it, I have seen it on TV and watched it in movies. Where they lead you to believe it is, it is not. I am still not sure that I have the right location, you will have to wait until later to find out if I find it... It will also hopefully bring me close to an other place that I want to go to, but I cant find that place on the map either.

Anyway 9 post cards, three to "B

1 comment:

RM said...

Hi there from Rochester, MN. I wanted to point out that our "corn tower" is 151 feet tall, which does include the base. I'd have to check on the size of the ear of corn itself, but it's likely taller than 25 feet. I think we win! Either way, thank you for visiting Rochester!