One of the fringe benefits of my job is, of course, the ability to travel around the country. If I’m lucky I get to see some weird and interesting people and things. Since I love oddities, superlatives, and miscellany I always keep my camera at the ready and I am seldom disappointed. Here are some things that brought a smile to my face in the last year. I took all these pictures of actual places and things I saw. Hopefully you might get a chuckle, too. God knows we could all use one right now.
by: Dustin Joy
Every City wants to attract tourists, even if it doesn’t have all that much to brag about (I’m talking to you Fargo, North Dakota). Cities have tried this in different ways but the common approaches are the “braggy” tourism guide from the Chamber of Commerce and the “do-it-yourself” tourist attraction.
The Braggy Guide
Fargo’s try – It is so flat and cold and boring in Fargo that their local tourism museum’s biggest attraction is the iconic wood-chipper which rearranges Steve Buscemi in the movie Fargo (most of which takes place in Minnesota)
Santa Fe is a little cooler but still has to qualify their claim a bit. Not Best Cheeseburger in the USA, but best Green Chile Cheeseburger. Still a good try.
Richmond not only runs their NASCAR races “at night,” WOW!, they also…
Have the 9th best Shopping Neighborhood in America. Go Richmond!
Noticed this ad for the Richmond Ballet (Yes, Richmond, Virginia has a Ballet.) What caught my eye, though, was the name of the Artistic Director. What kind of person, exactly, names his son Stoner?
Alamagordo, NM might have other exciting tourist attractions, but I put my money on PistachioLand U.S.A. After all, they do have the World’s Largest Pistachio. By the way, PistachioLand and “World’s Largest Pistachio” are trademarks so don’t go using them yourself.
Finally, there is Nemaha County, Nebraska which has a pretty nice tourist guide for a little place and a catchy motto, “All Roads Lead To Nemaha County.”
Unfortunately, two of the three roads depicted on their own map fail to lead to Nemaha County.
The D.I.Y. Attraction
The DIY is usually a representation of something or someone the city is famous for, sometimes life-size, sometimes absurdly big.
Louisville, KY has a couple. Here’s the blue horse.
And the giant baseball bat (A Louisville Slugger, of course)
Silver Bay, MN has Taconite Man who is, I guess, what a lump of iron ore would look like if you brought it to life.
Lubbock, TX, home of Buddy Holley, has, of course, giant nerdy glasses, just like Buddy.
Many cities opt for something made of bronze, Lubbock included.
Here’s Buddy himself.
Go on down to Corpus Christi, TX and you will find another hometown singer who died tragically young. Here’s Selena, immortalized in bronze. I hope if they immortalize me they at least put a shirt on me.
Here’s President Jimmy Carter. Oddly, though, this is not Plains, Georgia or even Atlanta. It’s Rapid City, SD. Don’t ask me.
Here’s a creepy bronze bust of rocket scientist and ex-nazi Werner vonBraun emerging from …a flowerpot, I guess, in Huntsville, AL. The green cast is not an optical illusion. The statue really is that color. Weird.
Finally, here’s a careless Ronald MacDonald in downtown Chicago.
The Local Paper
In addition to browsing the local tourism magazines I absolutely love small-town newspapers. They are usually good for a hilarious police blotter, a grammar-deficient news story, or a raving editorial about a monumentally unimportant subject. Here are a few tidbits I gleaned from local papers this year.
Rock Island is a tough place, after all.
I love the detail that it was a “three-legged” tiger.
Part two. She was intoxicated? You don’t say.
Part three. The final quote from the Omaha Police speaks for itself.
Leave it to Oklahoma.
I’m sorry to keep picking on North Dakota, but, you know. So, let’s get this straight, you want to put a tax on windmills to offset the tax credit people get for building windmills. Brilliant! That’s the kind of forward thinking we expect from North Dakota.
This is the one and only picture here I didn’t take but you gotta admit it’s a good one. This is the headline the East Oregonian newspaper came up with for the Associated Press story about Oakland pitcher Pat Venditte – who is ambidextrous. Who knows, maybe he can pitch underwater, too.
Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs
Traveling about I also get to see some pretty interesting signs from time to time. Here is a collection from this year.
At the Ottawa, Ontario airport.
Hayden, CO airport.
The Muscatine Environmental Center, Muscatine, IA.
The Lavatory of an EMB-145 jet. I wonder what part of the country you are in if the second notice doesn’t go without saying? Okay, I won’t say North Dakota. They’ve taken enough abuse.
I’m certainly too smart to comment on this.
Just outside security checkpoint at the Fargo, ND airport.
As you might have guessed – over the urinal. Restaurant/ Bar in Andalusia, IL.
Actual restaurant in the food court at the Maine Mall- Portland, ME. You don’t want to know what’s in the ….well, anything.
Any children or my children?
Montreal, Quebec. So, no golfing and …what… no pooping goats? Or is it a sheep? Or is it a dog?
More damn rules. Okay, so no golf, no pooping sheep , and no hunting campers. I got it. State park in the arrowhead of Minnesota.
Deli in Iowa City, IA. Okay, maybe I’ll just go to McDonalds. The spatters of blood are a nice touch.
Hospital – Aledo, IL. I love glyphs! Where are his arms, by the way?
Carleton College – Northfield, MN. I love it that the Career Center is in Severance Hall.
Super 8 – Cloquet, MN. Are hard boiled eggs regional or rotational? Must be rotational, because they’re round. Get it? Get it?
Old Threshers Reunion – Mount Pleasant, IA. Sign needs to be…bigger, maybe?
Yes, we carry this sign with us everywhere we go.
Preston Hotel – Nashville, TN. No crappy little Gideon Bible is gonna cut it at the Preston (an awesome and quirky hotel, by the way.) In addition to the Spiritual Menu they ask you when you check in if you want a fish or a lamp. When you look puzzled they tell you that they will deliver to your room either a live Guppy in a fishbowl or a Lava Lamp for company or ambiance. Love that hotel!
A sign next to the history museum in Dickinson, ND. “German’s from Russia – They Came?” Well, good for them.
The Game Cleaning Room at Bemidji State University – Bemidji, MN. I bet Harvard doesn’t have that.
Some Questionable Grammar
Buckle Up. It’s more important then you think.
With rights comes responsibility, eh?
EL PASO, TX. Somebody has to sell tickets for Virgin Galactic.
Des Moines, IA. – Who says Iowans lack a sense of humor?
Beef Jerky Outlet – Huntsville, AL. Who says Alabamans lack a sense of humor?
And my final sign.
Buy, Buy, Buy
Here are some actual products I saw, and you can buy.
For Deer hunting. God I hope it’s for deer hunting!
This slogan seems needlessly menacing, or is it me?
A real game but I should get some royalties from the manufacturer for infringing on my joke – What does a Yeti put on his spaghetti? Squatchsauce!!!! Get it? Get it?
This is not your Grandma’s hot sauce. Check out the attached label in the next picture.
With great hot sauce comes great responsibility!
I know this is an engraving art set but I just can’t stop thinking that this is a Jedi Kitten holding a light-saber. Use the Force Jedi Kitten!!!!
Yes, everyone will think you are cool if your wear these.
Try our recycled Kleenex, too.
Sorry, I thought that was a different product.
Do you want some of my Nut Goodies? What? What? They’re really good.
Don’t know why this makes me laugh but it does every single time.
At The Bookstore
I’m not sure what the Dewey Decimal code is for Hipster Baby but here’s the section.
Best Book Title Ever!
This should be shelved with the Vegan Stoner Cookbook, I guess.
Spoiler alert ……..
Yes. Yes we are.
I’m all for it.
A Millennial update of the old classic.
Cleanse is one term for it.
And, finally, other random stuff I saw this year that gave me pause…
You can’t unsee it. I’m sorry.
Merry Christmas …. I guess. (I wonder what the Chinese kid thought when he was painting this.)
Santa Fe, NM – A VW Bug – I get it!
I thought there was a limit to what states would allow on a vanity plate. So did he get this one first?
Or this one?
Mmmmmm. Jesus Donuts. They are HOLY! Holey, Get it? Get it?
Aquarium bar. The Galt House – Louisville, KY. It really freaks out the drunks.
It’s the Christmas Dragon …I guess. What’s the Christmas dragon again?
A perfect square knot spontaneously tied by my iPad charger and my iPod charger. Cool, huh? I wasn’t even a Boy Scout.
Walking Sticks making the beast with two backs (and twelve legs) on my shed. I’m sorry. This was just so weird and cool I had to include it.
Cool! A Lego version of Mark Twain’s House – Hartford, CT Airport.
Amish men watching the Saloon show at the Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion – Mt. Pleasant, IA. I guess they didn’t want the elders seeing them inside.
A Tesla charging station in Amarillo, TX in the middle of Texas Oil country. Not even any graffiti.
The box the box my new shoes came in came in.
My son’s class did dioramas of the U.S. states. My son did Vermont. It was awesome. I do have to give honorable mention to the kid who did Tennessee, though.
Parked in Nashville next to the Rolling Stones tour plane and had to get a picture. My twenty-something FO looked puzzled. “The Rolling Stones, MAN!” I shouted by way of explanation. He turned back to me and said, in all seriousness, “That’s a kind of candy, right?”
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum – Chantilly, VA. Actual china found in the wreckage of the Hindenburg. And I can’t even get a cup of coffee to the table without spilling it all over myself.
Best bumper sticker of the year, bar none.
Photo caption – Smithsonian Magazine. Favorite phrase of all time – Raze the Ruins. Sounds like a great name for a band.
Have some almonds. But be careful if you are allergic to …almonds.
Dye used in our PTC fundraising Color Run! Maize starch I get. But what, exactly, are permissible colors?
Who puts this ornament on their tree? And what does it mean if you do? Peace on Earth, Goodwill to men?
Bass Pro Shop Store – St. Charles, MO. True Story. I was looking at the fish in the big aquarium in the middle of the store when I became aware of a middle-aged lady standing beside me also looking into the tank. She was a store clerk it turned out. After an uncomfortably long time she turned to me and said, very calmly and seriously “I hate that fish. He watches me all the time I’m stocking shelves over here. He just watches.” I smiled politely and backed away slowly.
Final cool thing I got to do this year in my travels. On Veteran’s Day in Ottawa, Ontario I got to meet the Prime-Minister of Canada and get his picture. He’s a smart, young, handsome Liberal who doesn’t seem to hate too many people…I’m not sure where I’m going with this.