November – Gratitude – Photo/Art

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Traveling to Vermont for Thanksgiving with family. (c)2018

Fireplace on a cold Thanksgiving night. (c)2018


Thanksgiving Dinner. (c)2018

50 – 12 – Air Horns

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My family drove everywhere. We’d load up the car the night before, get up and pile in the car to leave at 4am, still in our pajamas. After about four hours of driving, we’d stop for breakfast and put on real clothes, then continue on our way. We went to Canada, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia. There were three of us in the backseat, and going there was more room than coming back. Canada had the duty free shop and my parents smoked. Coming back from Florida, we were covered in cigarette cartons and oranges because the prices were so cheap down south.

We played car games, like keeping track of the states on the license plates, car colors, signs, some magnetic games, anything to keep us occupied and not touching each other or breathing on each other.

One thing that we always did when we were kids were to get the attention of the truck drivers. My Dad had a CB radio so we talked to them and when we got their attention in person, through the window, we’d pretend to pull the air-horn.

They copied us and returned the gesture only they blew their air-horns and the regular truck horn.

It was fantastic.

I don’t think they do that anymore. While we were driving to Niagara Falls a few weeks ago, we told our kids to do that. The one truck driver who saw them waved, which was pretty thrilling in itself.

We would also moo at any cows we passed by. I’m happy to saw our kids think we’re dorks, but it’s such a good memory, I wanted them to have it as well.

Roadside America

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When I was a kid I was lucky enough that my parents took my siblings and I on many family vacations. I learned history on many of these trips. We visited family in Toronto, Canada, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We also went to Niagara Falls, the Ontario Science Center, and Disneyworld. We were really lucky. A few of the other places we traveled to on our East Coast adventures were what you might call kitschy or roadside attractions. We never saw a great ball of twine or see Area 51 or even the Corn Palace, but we went to Amish Country, the Fountain of Youth, South of the Border and Zinn’s Diner (now closed). I remember the last two vividly. South of the Border was like entering into a fantasyland filled with neon lights and fireworks stands. The giant man in the sombrero was even more gigantic to small children, aged 4-8.

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Photo Credit: Leonard J. DeFrancisci, July 2008

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Photo Credit: Matthew Logan

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Zinn's Diner Postcard

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Public Domain

The Disney/Pixar movie Cars reminded us of those things found on the road trip of following Route 66, seeing things that couldn’t be seen anywhere else, and I thought about my childhood of road trips both north and south. Everyone should see at least one ridiculous roadside attraction in their lives, and if they’re lucky, they should see many more.

Here are a few suggestions and resources:

Budget Travel’s 25 Wackiest Roadside Attractions (Slideshow)

Budget Travel’s Ultimate Road Trip App

Things You Will See on a Road Trip Across America

South of the Border

Amos the Amish Man Giant Statue

Amos’ Current Location

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park

Corn Palace

Great Ball of Twine

Route 66

Niagara Falls – not so much roadside attraction, but a can’t be missed world wonder

Visit Area 51

Area 51 Sightseeing

Don’t Panic: Visiting Area 51

America’s Car Museum

Saratoga Automobile Museum