Tag: Roadside America

Would You Like to See My Sweet Caboose?

Would You Like to See My Sweet Caboose?

Sleeping in a caboose is one of the items that has been on my life’s To Do list for many years. How it ended up there, at this point I can’t say. It’s not like I’m not a railroad fanatic or anything. No doubt I stumbled across the existence of a caboose motel and said fun! and the idea stuck around.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I hadn’t planned on that being that day that I would sleep in a caboose. But, a few cups of coffee and 200 miles later, I found myself in the belly of the Reading caboose #21. ::shrug::


Sadly, my car isn’t as photogenic as my motorcycle.

Upon check-in at the Red Caboose Motel, the friendly desk clerk addressed me as if there were an “us,” a “you guys” and a “you all.” As you might imagine, this place is popular with families, so I don’t blame her.

“Have you guys stayed with us before?”
“Nope, first time.”
“Well, welcome aboard! Woo woo!”

Yep. She really woo-wooed, pulling the imaginary cord that sounds the horn. It’s nice when people are excited about life.

If I had to guess, a lot of solo 40-something women don’t come wheeling into the caboose motel on a Saturday night. And so I didn’t bother to correct her on my non-us-ness. About an hour later when I saw her again, she said cheerfully said, “is everything okay with you guys in your caboo… you’re alone, aren’t you. Sorry. Habit.” I’m starting to get a complex. You can’t make this stuff up.

As I said, this motel is very family friendly. It has an arcade, a silo observation tower, playground, buggy rides, ice cream and a few barnyard animals for petting.

Though I felt a little out of place with no kidlet of my own, I spent some time at the animal pens with the mini horses. As gaggles of children descended to tug on animal ears and manes – there I was, trying to telepathically communicate with the animals. I felt it was important that they knew that I was only there to love them up gently and that they should stay with me ‘cuz I love them best.

But apparently, they don’t have time for small talk, even if telepathically, when you don’t come with 25¢ worth of yum-yum pellets from the vending machine. I never seem to have any change when I actually want it.

While trying to make nice with a fuzzy gray horse, I watched the families at the other end of the corral. Looking on, I wondered why any parent would just allow their tiny toddler to put their deliciously chubby digits into some strange animals face unobserved.

Maybe I’m overly cautious, but it seems to me that when your two-year-old is touching an animal that is at least four times their size, you might want to put your fucking phone down and pay attention. I watched one dad yap nonstop on his phone while his little girl, face plugged with a pacifier, ran up and down along the fence “petting” the other mini horses. Later on, I heard crying and the words “…is a nipper,” floating above the general conversation. Oh, well.

People move in and out of my office all day tugging at my attention. Maybe if I start biting they’ll leave me alone, too.

The interior of my Queen Couples caboose looked like a tiny log cabin. It was clean and comfortable with cable, WiFi, a table to write at, a microwave, comfortable bed, and no funny smells. As nighttime inked the sky black, the wind outside picked up. The lack of insulation in the train was apparent in both the noise and the occasional draft. Not that it was bothersome, just something I was aware of. It felt like a reminder that I was sleeping in unusual quarters.

I enjoyed the novelty of my stay in the caboose. Seeing them all lined up, end to end with their candy colors brings out a child-like cheerfulness. It was worth the trip.

The Red Caboose Motel
312 Paradise Lane
Ronks, PA 17572

Road Food Perfection – Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia

Road Food Perfection – Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia

While cruising along the Ohio River on my way to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, I made a pit stop at the glorious Hillbilly Hotdogs. If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss it!

Previously, I posted about a postcard from my friend Chris after his visit to Hillbilly Hotdogs. Seeing the place with my own eyes and enjoying the experience first hand was somethin’ else. I’ll tell you what, this place is a trip!

At first, I couldn’t quite figure out where and how to actually order something. The place is so jampacked full of stuff, it takes a minute to get your bearings.

I dined next at the picnic table next to the toilet seat. How many times in your life can you say you’ve done that? Since it looked like a horseshoe, I thought it might bring me luck.

I recall Chris saying that he waited online for something like an hour to get his food when he was there on a weekend. As you can see from the photo below – lunchtime on a random Tuesday in September is the time to stop in. There was only 1 couple in front of me.

This weddin’ chapel seems perfect to me. Perhaps because Kenny and I got married in a bar by an ordained minister named Catfish.

And this… this was my lunch. The Strictly Business dog, hold the onions. Coleslaw, jalapenos, fried spam, shredded cheese, mustard, and a deep-fried weenie. The good luck toilet seat must’ve worked since I didn’t get heartburn or any other stomach distress from eating it. A Christmas miracle.

Yup.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs
6951 Ohio River Rd.
Lesage, WV

Paulverizer – The Cyborg Muffler Man of Buena Vista, Virginia

Paulverizer – The Cyborg Muffler Man of Buena Vista, Virginia

This ain’t your mama’s muffler man. No, this? This is somethin’ else! You’ve got that familiar sturdy jaw and that manly mug but that’s about it.

And a nice little hat tip to the motorcycle.

Unfortunately, with the sky so hazy and the crazy backlighting, I didn’t snap very many good pictures. I should probably learn how to use a camera. Since I bungled this, you should probably take a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway and pop off in the town of Buena Vista, Virginia to have a look for yourself.

Paulverizer on Roadside America

Roadside Snapshots: Take Two Cows and Call Me in the Morning

Roadside Snapshots: Take Two Cows and Call Me in the Morning

Along with dinosaurs and my favorite, the Giant Chicken Army, cows have to be one of the most abundant roadside animal statues.

I saw two more big ladies of note while road tripping in September, both in Pennsylvania.

The well-loved big cow of Wilkes-Barre. She’s just up the road from the dilapidated big coffee mug.

This big mama stands outside of the Turkey Hill Experience.

A fine roadside specimen. Plus, there is gas and ice cream right there. But I suppose if you’re lactose intolerant, those two things may always be together. ::ba-dum-dum-tsss:: Try the veal! Ooooh, awkwaaaaard…

Pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before but, why, why, why do they have to make those milkbags so veiny?! GROSS!

Apparently I Have A Giant Lobster Antenna

Apparently I Have A Giant Lobster Antenna

While puttering around the house on this rainy morning, the notion of posting some of the photos from my most recent road trip flittered in and out of my thoughts. That idea was swirled between the need to do laundry, buy dog food and have another cup of coffee.

Needing to buy dog food. Now, there is an unquestionable purpose and benefit. The dog has to eat and you have to feed it. The result is a happy dog and a happy person. The same can’t be said about sharing the dumb stuff I take pictures of while I’m out riding my motorcycle. There isn’t a direct need nor benefit.

What’s this thing, this compulsion to document and share? What purpose does taking a picture of a giant lobster and then showing you serve? None, really. And yet, it’s like an automatic behavior. At least the picture snapping part, as evidenced by the thousands of oddball photos on my iPhone.

This morning, I read an article in The Economist’s 1843 magazine: Japan’s pioneering street photographer about Daidō Moriyama. This quote, in particular, stayed with me:

He still prowls cities at the age of 79, although he now prefers to use a compact digital camera, snapping unobtrusively from waist-level. “We perceive countless images all day long and do not always focus on them,” he says.

It got me thinking about all of the things I like to take photos of – the whimsical, the artful, the goofball, the nostalgic and fading moments of our continuously hardening society. When people say to me, “you find the craziest things,” with regard to the 5-foot lobsters of life, it seems strange to me. Those things are right there all the time! Why don’t some people see them?

I suppose that while some of us are focused on buying dog food, our antennas just don’t pick up on those other signals. “We perceive countless images all day long and do not always focus on them.”

Maybe my riding and photo-snapping is a gentle reminder to myself to try to remember to see. See the things that make me smile, make me laugh, that keep youthful feelings in my heart.

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