Category Spotted on the Roadside

Spotted on the Roadside: The World’s Largest Gavel in Columbus, OH

 

I honestly don’t have a whole bunch to say about this 17,0000 pound stainless steel gavel save for the fact that I want a giant stainless steel Judge Judy to wield it and smash injustice throughout the world. Predatory financial centers whose sole purpose is to grind every cent out of the poor? SMASHED. People who get into public service to enrich themselves and their friends at the expense of everyone else? SMASHED. The dude who cuts the cake and distributes the pieces and he clearly saved the best one for himself even though it wasn’t his cake? SMASHED. Cancer “charities” who seem to exist to put their name on everything and use donated funds to aggressively sue other charities who dare to use the word “cure” anywhere in their branding and do fuckall for people with cancer? SMASHED. People who complain about other people posting spoilers but then post spoilers themselves the second after they’ve seen the thing in question? SMASHED. People who CLEARLY know the lane they’re driving in is going to turn into a right turn only lane and wait until the last second to cut in because they’re too good to wait in line like everyone else, now blocking TWO lanes of traffic and making loads more people wait? SMASOK, smashing is a little harsh and would only block the roads further, but you are on notice, buddy. Stainless Steel Judge Judy has her steely gaze on you.

Spotted on S Front St in Columbus, OH

Spotted on the Roadside: The Dancing Hares of Dublin, OH

Commissioned by Peter Edwards, “Dancing Hares” was created by London artist Sophie Ryder in 2001; she was inspired by the courtship rituals of hares, in which they stand erect and “box” one another. Originally exhibited at The Hague, the rabbits were later shipped to Dublin and installed in a park for the public to admire as they frolic similarly in the dancing waters of the fountain below. On closer inspection, all of the hares are embedded with dozens (hundreds?) of ordinary objects–coins, toys, tools, and a number of things I couldn’t begin to identify.

Pro tip: After you’re done admiring the art, roll down the grassy hill upon which these hares eternally battle…because why not?

Spotted on Woerner Temple Road in Dublin, OH

Spotted on the Roadside: Giant Corn in Dublin, OH

 

“So what kind of stuff did you want to do while you guys are here?”
“Well, I read about this giant field of fake corn cobs that’s not far from you–“
“Oh, that’s weird, Melissa. You’ll see it, it’s weird.”

I mean, a giant field of fake corn cobs is weird. Completed in 1994, these 109 concrete ears almost immediately became a town joke, because if I have learned one thing from years of traveling from public art site to public art site, it’s that the public hates public art. It’s all fine until someone finds that a fraction of a penny of their personal tax dollars went into creating it, and then all of a sudden, you’ve got dudes with usernames like FuckTheCorn53 on local papers’ comment sections. ANYWAY, “Field of Corn with Osage Orange Trees” was created on a plot of land that originally was used to develop hybridized corn. This land was later donated to the city, and they went looking for a piece of public art that could be placed on the site, eventually going with Malcolm Cochran’s proposal for the concrete cobs, a happy coincidence because evidently they did not know at the time of the land’s history

Standing at 6’3″, I’d have to stand on a sizable box in order to be top in my field. Ugh, what a corny joke, I’m sure you didn’t want to ear it. Shuck it, what’s done is done.

Spotted on Rings Road in Dublin, OH

 

Spotted on the Roadside: Murals in Cincinnati

Cincinnati is FULL of murals celebrating the neighborhoods and notable residents they’ve had throughout the years–a public arts campaign began in 2007 and has continued through 2017, culminating in more than 100 murals that place art into residents’ daily lives.  Obviously my favorite was the toy mural, which could have easily been called “80s child nostalgia”.  I can almost smell those barely lightbulb warmed treats now.

 

Campy Washington spotted on Colerain Ave

Martha, The Last Passenger Pigeon spotted on Vine St

Armstrong spotted on Walnut St 

Swing Around Rosie spotted on W Liberty St

Cincinnati Toy Heritage spotted on W Court St

Spotted on the Roadside: The World’s Largest Chocolate Fall

Not to be confused, of course, with the “World’s Largest Continuous Chocolate Fountain“. I can play this game, too: I’ve got the world’s most widely read mega niche blog written by someone in my neighborhood. Impressive, no?

This neon sign is like one of those magic eye paintings, if you blur your vision just so, the waterfall turns into something much dirtier. As I entered the place, I realized that the chocolate fountain sign could just be a trap set by a clever polar bear to lure in easily-mauled tourists. 

Or, you know, they could have an actual chocolate fountain. It still doesn’t seem nearly as large as the Guinness-certified world’s tallest chocolate fountain, but maybe this one has a larger volume or it’s distinguished in some other small way or maybe it’s a way for a candy store to lure in tourists and their easily-mauled wallets. I don’t know, because if there’s one thing that’s consistent about all of these fountains, it’s that they never let me in there with both hands to take measurements and do chocolate science.

While I was there, I picked up a number of chocolates with jelly centers made from various Alaskan wild berries–salmonberry, fireweed, mossberries, etc, as well as some birch syrup. That’s right, maple isn’t the only sweet tree gunk game in town. The reason you may not have heard of birch syrup is that it takes many, many more liters of sap to make birch syrup than it does maple, so it’s considerably more rare and correspondingly expensive. The flavor is also strikingly different from maple syrup, with a dark (almost burnt) caramel taste, but slightly more complex and woodsy. It’s a deeply interesting flavor, and I’ve been having lots of fun incorporating it into various dishes–for example, for Halloween this year, I used birch syrup as a flavoring agent in a cheesecake. My original idea was to use it in the crust, but because birch syrup is primarily composed of fructose, whereas the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup is sucrose,  I was concerned it would encourage the crust to hold too much moisture and come off as soggy. Although it was more subtle in the cheesecake than I would have ultimately preferred, I was encouraged by the results, and I have enough left over to continue some new lines of experimenation. It’s also fantastic on coconut pancakes.

The store also had this sort of funny, sort of creepy painting of bears dancing, except for the one on the right, who looks like he’s emulating Louis C.K. 

Then there’s this deserted bus across the street that screams “danger” to any person with sense, the sort of bus you’d journey off in toward your own murder or a horrible picnic with the aforementioned creepy bears. No, thank you!

 

Spotted on Juneau St in Anchorage, AK

Spotted on the Roadside: The Gastown Steam Clock in Vancouver, BC

Lose track of your steampunk friends somewhere in Vancouver? You’ll probably find them in Gastown, pointing their goggles at the steam clock and talking about zeppelins. This popular tourist landmark was built to cover a steam vent so no one could sleep on it–not all cities have the giant brass balls it must take to turn their anti homeless measures into destinations for tourism. I don’t expect to see flyers directing me to the best spiked sidewalks in London, for instance.  You’ll note they didn’t put their less-savory reasoning for installing the clock on the plaque, and it may disappoint your steampunk friends to find out that the clock was built and installed in 1977 so it’s not exactly ‘victorian’. Buuut there’s a steam-y bar down the street where they can drown their sorrows in some brews and, uh, talk about zeppelins–just, for the love of god, don’t order anything mid-rare.

 

Spotted on Water St in Vancouver, BC

Spotted on the Roadside: With the what, now?

What’s the deal with these Easter Island heads? Nobody’s talking about them, save for this old Roadside America post from when they were still made out of wood. The hotel’s website doesn’t mention them, no Lincoln City beat reporter published a piece about their subsequent refurbishment and their meaning to the town. Nada. So here’s some heads. One of ’em is eating me.

 

Spotted on highway 101 in Lincoln City, OR

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Spotted on the Roadside: The World’s Largest Chili Pepper

 

This 47 foot beast of a chile is planted squarely in front of the Big Chile Inn in Las Cruces. As recently as 2015, there was a wall around the chile and a donation required to get up close, but the chile has since been freed to all comers (#freethechile). Which is just as well, because frankly, a chile just doesn’t seem as grand if it can be contained by mere walls. Weighing in at 5,000 pounds, this chile contains enough concrete capsaicin to take down a t-rex on taco tuesday. And yes, I do want you to say the last part of that sentence three times fast.

 

 

 

Spotted on Picacho Ave in Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Spotted on the Roadside: The World’s Largest Pistachio

Some days you feel like a nut, some days you just stand next to the world’s largest nut. In Alamogordo, that nut is 30 feet tall and would likely even satisfy the Hulk’s salty snack cravings when he’s at his hangriest*.  This roadside monument stands outside Pistachio Tree Ranch, and was dedicated to the memory of its founder, Thomas McGinn. Inside, they have a full tasting bar of all of their different flavored nuts and brittles of which I availed myself of more than a few (and bought more than a few, too, their atomic hot chili pistachio brittle is amaaaaazing) and some wine tasting as well (including pistachio wine) of which I did not partake seeing as how it was something like 10am when I visited and just a little early in the day to be getting my drink on, pistachio based or otherwise.

This giant nut effigy is also where we came to a tentative decision about our post-retirement lives. Sure, it’s still early to be thinking about that, but as anyone who knows me knows, I live nowhere if not in my own head, and I’ve been doing some thinking about my life and its direction. I still don’t know what I want to do in the intervening years, but while we relaxed in the shade of the giant pistachio, an RV pulled up, and a retired couple emerged, holding their dog. Jason nudged me and asked, “Is that us?” I agreed that it was. The two of us, rambling around in an RV, going wherever we want? Sounds good to me.

 

Spotted on US-54 in Alamogordo, NM

 

*I did a quick rough calculation and determined if a regular pistachio is approximately half an inch long and 4 calories, that this giant pistachio is still not made of materials that are recommended for human consumption.

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Spotted on the Roadside: One Handsome Rattlesnake

Or, rather, TWO handsome rattlesnakes as they bookend University Boulevard. Although a rattlesnake in Freer, Texas boasts the title of “largest rattlesnake in the world”, I think these two give it a run for its money. Caution: there is NO good place to pull over to get a closer look at these snakes, as there’s a high curb on both sides of the road and very little shoulder to speak of. The people you see wandering around it in the photo stopped their car in the middle of the road, which I wholeheartedly do *not* recommend, no matter how much you might want to ride a giant rattlesnake. And believe me, I wanted to.

Spotted on University Blvd SE in Albuquerque, NM

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