Category: Bucket List – Done

Road Trip Bucket List: Visiting the Cabazon Dinosaurs

Road Trip Bucket List: Visiting the Cabazon Dinosaurs

There is no doubt about it. My introduction to the Cabazon Dinosaurs was through watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure a million times in Junior High. I loved that movie. So in December of 2016 while roadtripping in California, I was ecstatic to be able to visit the dinosaurs of my youth. (You know what I mean!)

When I arrived, there were tons of people milling around. The parking lot was full and getting pictures without strangers in them proved to be a challenge. That was unexpected. Before I arrived I imagined myself as being the only person there. Turns out – the world’s largest dinosaurs are hard to resist.


The highlight of my stop was being able to walk up inside of Dinny’s belly and buy a couple postcards. When’s the last time you were in the belly of a brontosaurus?

Claude Bell building Dinny:

Original Photo Source: Unknown

Look how much the dino complex has been built up since Pee Wee filmed. Here is a streetview showing generic chain restaurants and nonsense followed by a scene in the movie that highlights how empty everything seemed in the 80s.

Andy chases Pee Wee:

The Wheel Inn Diner is no more. As Curbed LA says, “Large Marge will NEVER SEND ANYONE to the Wheel Inn AGAIN”. It shuttered in 2013. I suppose the remaining EAT sign is a consolation prize.

Image source: Curbed LA

“Come on, Simone. Let’s talk about your big but…”

The Laser Time Podcast posted a blog called 5 Awesome Appearances of the California Dinosaurs which is pretty neat. They dug up pop culture uses of the dinos in movies and print. Definitely check that out!

This stop was a tick on the ole bucket list!

Cabazon Dinosaurs

50770 Seminole Dr
Cabazon, CA 92230

Sunday Afternoon in the Shadow of the Tunkhannock Viaduct

Sunday Afternoon in the Shadow of the Tunkhannock Viaduct

Exactly one year ago today, I set off from Long Island on Sunday morning with a bug in my ear to see a concrete railroad bridge in northeastern Pennsylvania. It’s called the Tunkhannock Viaduct or the Nicholson Bridge.

At the time it was built in the 19-teens it was the worlds largest concrete structure. Today, almost 100 years later it is still an impressive sight. I dare say it is arresting when you head north along US 11 and it comes in to view.

Why would I ride over 200 miles each way to stand in front of some concrete bridge? The answer is simple. I don’t know.

What is it that you get from being in the presence of something inanimate versus simply looking at pictures of it online or in a book? Again, I don’t know. But… there is something.

Sometimes it seems like my trips to things sprinkled around the country answer questions that I don’t realize that I’m asking. Standing in their shadow makes me feel something. I guess maybe that’s what I’m after – to feel something. To know something with the cells of my body before my mind has time to scramble it up.

It’s nice to see a place that is proud of the hallmarks of their community. Something about it gives me a lovesick envy.

And away we go.

Visiting Santa Claus in Indiana

Visiting Santa Claus in Indiana

“Holy shit!”

When I crested the camels hump of a hill, the suspension on the Tiger completely unloaded leaving in its wake an unnerving floating sensation. During that millisecond of weightless hang-time strangely enough there’s plenty of time to contemplate your own idiocy. Maybe I should’ve slowed down. I hope I don’t leave a crater when I come back to Earth.  But, safety third! I was on a mission. A mission to see Santa.

The reason that something sets up shop inside my already cluttered mind is a mystery to me. I don’t recall where, when or why I learned that there is a town in Indiana called Santa Claus. It seems like it’s been part of the landscape of my mind forever. Further testament that the internet is rotting my brain, I’m sure.

Pulling in to Santa Claus (that sounds realllllly weird) on Columbus Day the town had the stink of this is a vacation town and vacation time is over on it. There was no one around. There were no cars on the road, the amusement park was closed, parking lots were barren. Griswolds at Wallyworld.

Stabbing at my GPS, I found the post office and rode towards it. I wanted to send a couple of postcards. When I pulled in to the lot, I did a quick ride through to get my bearings. Though the post office closed for the holiday, I could still drop my cards in the outgoing mail since I’ve taken to keeping stamps in my wallet like an 85-year old woman.

Circling through the parking lot again, I parked at the supermarket a few doors down. Front and center was a rack of postcards that I could see right through the window. It was my lucky day.

Sitting out front on a wooden picnic table (why doesn’t every store do this?!) I wrote out my postcards and basked in feeling deliriously pleased with myself that my daughter Chloe would be getting a card postmarked from Santa Claus. Someday I hope these dumb things give her a chuckle. In the meantime, I’ll just make do with her breezy “cool, mom” affirmations. I’m sure it’s hard to know what to say when your mom is a fruitcake.

When I finished up my scribbles, I walked back to my bike and readied to shove off towards Kentucky. Standing there, rolling my squishy earplugs a pickup truck pulled up next to me with a smiling man filling the driver’s side window.

“I saw you when you pulled in before. Had to come over and see where that license plate is from. Where you comin’ from?”

“I live in New York, on Long Island.”

“I ain’t never seen no Long Island license plate before!”

A minor geographical oversight that didn’t’ bear correcting. What did it matter? I just smiled at him and then to his lady in the passenger seat.

For all of his grinning and curiosity, she had a bit of a puss on her. He chirped away asking questions about what I was doing and if I’d be spending some time in town. She would chime in with abrupt, sour fragments like, “okay, then” and “alright, now” that seemed like shortened ways of saying “would you stop talking to this chick and get us home? I’m missin’ my stories!”

When he finally exhausted his questions (or grew tired of her not-so-subtle needling) the man in the pickup truck wished me safe travels and closed with a “Welcome to southern Indiana!” 

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

The Big Banana Car – I Saw It!

The Big Banana Car – I Saw It!

Scratch another one off of the bucket list!

I know, I know. I sound like a broken record when I ask you if you think things are meant to be or if you believe in luck or fate. But… sometimes circumstances just seem too perfect that calling it a coincidence just doesn’t seem like enough.

When you break down all the hours, minutes and seconds in people lives, the probability of putting random elements together is mind-boggling. One extra minute brushing your teeth, forgetting something in the house and going back inside for it, a u-turn on the street – it all changes the timing and outcome of every event that follows it.

On Saturday morning as I was exiting the highway in Pennsylvania, I pulled through the toll booth and out of the corner of my eye I saw an unmistakable yellow nubbin’ sticking up over the hedge of a motel parking lot. I knew right away what I was looking at. The banana car.

I zipped in the parking lot just as the banana driver was getting ready to leave. I parked, hopped off my motorcycle and said, “please, please, please, don’t pull away yet. I am so happy to see you!”

With that, he waited for me to get my phone out to snap a photo. While waiting he said, “wow, nice bike!” The only natural reply? “Thanks! Nice banana!”

And with that, the banana backed out and split. (sorry.) I was only sad that he didn’t peel out. (sorry again. I had to.)

What are the chances that I would run in to the banana car in Pennsylvania? It was almost as if it was meant to be. I can’t believe I got to see it without having to go search for it. The universe just served it up right to me.

I love it when that happens.



A Sunday Ride to Burlington, Vermont

A Sunday Ride to Burlington, Vermont

The phone sitting on the seat of my Tiger rings.

“Hey, babe. What’s going on?”

“Wow, you went far. What are you doing?”

“I’m standing in a gas station eating a turkey sandwich. I’m at my turn around point. I just rode 300 miles to take a photo.”

“Not a surprise.”

On Sunday I opted to make the most of the waning summer weather and set off to Burlington, Vermont. My plan was to take a photo of the Whispering Giant that stands there in Battery Park.

fuzzygalore tiger on vermont route 100

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. When you ride 300 miles to a place, you have to ride 300 miles back to return to where you came from.

Once I’d snapped my photos and had some Gatorade, I began my long trek back home. Knowing that I would be able to catch a late 10pm ferry if I had to, I opted to follow Vermont Route 100 south until the daylight ran out. No point in hurrying if I didn’t have to.

Though I’ve spent the last four decades going through the process, each autumn when the sun begins to set earlier it still smarts. That feeling of having to squeeze the last of the summer juice out of each day never gets any easier.

tow-mater made of hay in vermont

It was pretty great to spy a Tow-Mater made of hay along Route 7 in Vermont. There were several other hay sculptures along the way as well as a big metal robot-like man and a huge jug of maple syrup that I didn’t stop for. I hate when I do that. Now I’ll have to go back and check them out.

How many times do I have to tell myself – just stop for the damned thing!

giant fireplug jack

I did manage to stop for this awesome jack-like sculpture made of fireplugs. It was right on the main drag in the town of Shelburne, Vermont. I had seen a photo of it on Tracy’s Instagram feed from when he was moseyin’ through the northeast. I couldn’t resist getting a closer look. Pretty nifty, huh?

chief grey lock burlington vermont whispering giant

This is Chief Grey Lock – the reason I found myself in Burlington, Vermont. There is something about the way his mouth and teeth are carved that I really like. He stands 24 feet tall to the top of his feathers and is in pretty good shape overall.

So after this visit, that leaves just one more Whispering Giant on my close proximity list, the one in Laconia, New Hampshire. Though I still have a few weeks before the grand tour comes to a close at the end of October, I’ll have to make a concerted effort to get up there to see it. But, I suppose anything is possible.