Category Spotted on the Roadside

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





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


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.


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


Spotted on the Roadside: Cruising San Mateo I

Also referred to as “Chevy on a Stick”, Cruising San Mateo was constructed in 1991 by artist Barbara Grygutis. There’s not a lot of other information about it out there–it was erected as part of Albuquerque’s public arts program, but even their website is sparse. What happened to that giant gorilla made of tires, Albuquerque?! I WANT TO KNOW.

Spotted on San Mateo Blvd SE in Albuquerque, NM

Spotted on the Roadside: The 16th President Multi-Tasking


In 1849, Abraham Lincoln was offered the governership of the Oregon territory, which he declined. At that point in his life, he was disenchanted with politics and elected to temporarily return to his law practice, riding from village to village. He was a notorious bookworm, even from a young age, and thus it only made sense that he whiled away the long hours on horseback reading.


In 1965, five Oregon towns in Lincoln County consolidated to form what is now known as Lincoln City. The schoolchildren of the towns were given the honor of choosing the new city’s name, and in the fashion of children, they chose the zappy name “Surfland”, not knowing they could choose the even zappier “City McCityface”. Ultimately, the people in charge said “Screw you, children, we’re naming it Lincoln City” and Lincoln City it remains*.  In honor of the new city, the above statue was gifted to them by the sculptor, Anna Hyatt Huntington. No word on what the gift might have been for Surfland.


*At least for now. A placard at the base of the statue indicates that the statue may be removed by the governor if Lincoln City changes its name…so maybe Surfland still has a chance.

Spotted on NE 22nd St in Lincoln City, OR



Spotted on the Roadside: A Passel o’ Possums






Are possums the critter most suited to tending your autobody needs? These guys would definitely have you believe that’s the case. Or are they out for revenge, judging from the tire imprints that go around the midsection of one of their young? Looking for an excuse to get up under your hood and start bleeding your brakes? Either way,  don’t go playing dead when you see the bill–they’ll see right through it.

Spotted on SW 9th Ave in Albany, OR

Spotted on the Roadside: Technically, it’s an arachnid, not a bug

vw spider (1 of 2)

vw spider (2 of 2)

At one point, this VW beetle bug arachnid in Palm Springs graced the outside of a Volkswagen repair facility. I like the idea that you could bring in your Rabbit with a bad radiator and come out with a full-fledged Raptor, or at least a Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, given enough time and welding. The gates were closed when I passed by, and there’s precious little information available online. Frankly, I’m just happy knowing that somewhere out there is a light up spider with a happy Volkswagen body.

Spotted on N Indian Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA

Spotted on the Roadside: If the fangs don’t get you, the tetanus will


rattlesnake (4 of 5)

rattlesnake (3 of 5)

rattlesnake (2 of 5)

rattlesnake (1 of 5)

Installed in 2013, this rattlesnake tops the scales at 800 1200 a lot of pounds and more than twenty feet long (when stretched out, I presume, it seemed maybe ten feet tall when standing next to it). You have no idea how badly I wanted to climb on and take a picture of me riding this snake, perhaps twirling a hat around like a cowboy…or if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably actually do have a pretty good idea. Respect for the artist and the town kept my boots on the ground, because, you know, not everything needs to serve my selfish impulses. This rattlesnake was commissioned by an anonymous donor as a gift for the town, and created by artist Ricardo Breceda, who has a number of sculptures not far away in Borrego Springs, which I meant to go see this trip but it just didn’t happen. Next time!

Spotted on Old Hwy 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs, CA*



*not visible on Google Maps as it was installed after the last time the road was mapped. You can see how close Jacumba Hot Springs is to the border, though. Close enough that I got one of those “Welcome to Mexico!” text messages from my carrier.