Category: Sights from the Road

Welcome to… Area 66?

Welcome to… Area 66?

Area 66 Roadside Tourist Attraction - Yucca, Arizona

Zipping along on I-40 East, I saw the white geodesic ball of Area 66 come into view. “What the…?” escaped my lips as it drew closer.

Area 66 Roadside Tourist Attraction Sign - Yucca, Arizona

There was nothing that would have stopped me from exiting the highway to get a look at this nonsense. Besides, my fingers were frozen in my leather gloves in the chilly January air. The temperature hovered in the low 40’s that morning. Warming them up was the perfect excuse for a stop.

Area 66 Roadside Tourist Attraction - Yucca, Arizona - Geodesic Ball

It was still early in the morning when I pulled in. The UFO museum inside was not yet open. But I did get to walk around and take in this curious sight.

Area 66 Roadside Tourist Attraction - Yucca, Arizona

As I walked around the lot, I wasn’t sure that even if the museum were open that I’d have payed to take a look. But, I love that such places still manage to pull in enough curious customers to exist.

Area 66 Roadside Tourist Attraction - Yucca, Arizona - UFO Museum Sign

Between you and me, UFO-stuff freaks me out. I think if I ever saw a flying saucer or an alien, I would just die immediately.

Area 66 Roadside Tourist Attraction - Yucca, Arizona - Ford Arizona Proving Ground Sign

One interesting point of note is the Ford Arizona Proving Ground sign at the entrance to Area 66. You can see on Google Maps satellite view that the proving grounds, which now belong to Chrysler, are still an active site. I wonder if Area 66 was once the entrance or if these folks just picked up the sign when Ford moved along? Or… maybe it was aliens.

Area 66
12716 Alamo Road
Yucca, AZ 86438

To All the Muffler Men I’ve Loved Before

To All the Muffler Men I’ve Loved Before

Muffler Men are the handsome superstars of the American roadside attraction universe. With their chiseled good looks and steadfast perseverance they are a welcome sight to many a roadtripper.

When traveling around the US, visiting muffler men is one of my go-to sightseeing stops. The fiberglass giants always put a smile on my face.

Seaside Height, NJ – Mini Golf Halfwit

My awareness of and interest in muffler men is now spanning into plural decades. It started with an “oh, so that’s what they’re called!” after thumbing through a paperback copy of New Roadside America: The Modern Traveler’s Guide to the Wild and Wonderful World of America’s Tourist Attractions in the early aughts. It then spilled into tracking and visiting them via the Roadside America website, and iPhone app.

But before I knew that muffler men were indeed referred to as muffler men, I knew that they existed in a peripheral sense. You see, we have a muffler man Indian here on Long Island. I’d passed the Elmsford, NY Bunyan many times and mini-golfed with a halfwit in Seaside Heights, NJ.

Muffler men have long been a part of my universe. They were simply waiting for me to wake up to them.


Muffler Men – The Same But Different

Now, I’m sharp enough to know that some people think my level of interest and muffler man visitation is a waste of energy. The idea of traveling around and looking at big dumb fiberglass statues that “look the same” as all the other big dumb fiberglass statues I’ve seen before is ridiculous. But who needs that kind of negativity in their lives?

Yes, it’s true that they share the same basic DNA. And yet, these same-old-same-olds do have their own personalities, if you will. Each with little details that set them apart from one another that the uninformed might not be aware of. From accessories like hats, hamburgers, eyelashes and chest hair, the giants do have their own unique flair.

Wilmington, Illinois – Route 66 – Gemini Giant

It has also occurred to me that each one is infused with the flavor of their locale. They take on the vibe of their surroundings as they become infused with the landscape, neighborhood, or the personality of the owner.

You hear it all the time, “people are the same everywhere.” Hell, I’ve said it myself and meant it. But that sentiment is both true and false depending on the parameters and nuance you wrap around it. The same is true for big fiberglass people. They’re all the same, but different.

oaks pennsylviania halfwit muffler man and giraffe 2021
Halfwit and Giraffe – Oaks, Pennsylvania – 2021

Take a moment to consider the thought process of the person charged with repainting the Uniontown, Pa. muffler man. They looked at his face, squinted their eyes and said “something is missing…”

A few thousand bush strokes later, and with a triumphant voila! our boy was befitted with bedroom eyes.

Uniontown, Pennsylvania

And then someone somewhere else looked at the Lake George, NY Around the World mini-golf muffler man and said, “Yeah! Him, too! …but only on the right eye.”

Lake George, NY Mini Golf Muffler Man

Tales of Muffler Men Resurrection

When cruising around if I know a muffler man is close by, even if I’ve previously visited, I will typically stop to see what’s doing.

Over time the overall condition of the giants will change due to wind, sun, storms,… people hitting them with their cars. When you pull up to find one repaired or in better condition then when you last saw it, I’m not gonna lie – it’s kind of exciting. It’s heartwarming when someone loves what you love.

Hancock, Massachusetts

Hancock, Ma.

Having passed by the Hancock, Massachusetts giant a few times over the years, I got to witness his resurrection. He’d been suffering from a terrible case of the peels and it was great to see him freshly painted again.

Check out his blue bowtie – now red, nails on fleek, and sporting a fresh baseball cap.

Hancock, Ma.

Just look at those beautifully manicured nails!

hancock Massachusetts muffler man nails
Hancock, Ma.

Elmsford, New York

Another case of a giant who needed some TLC was the Elmsford, New York Bunyan. He stood armless for years. This spring (2021) when I stopped by, I was glad to see he’s got at least one ticket to the gun show again.

elmsford new york bp bunyan muffler man no arms - triumph speed triple motorcycle
Elmsford, NY

Sadly, the green-eyed giant is now starting to peel.

elmsford new york bunyan muffler man 2021
Elmsford, NY – 2021

Cheshire, Connecticut

The first time that I pulled up to the House of Doors in Cheshire, Connecticut years ago I was surprised to find nothing more than a pair of muffler pants. Doh!

cheshire connecticut muffler man pants - triumph speed triple
Cheshire, CT

Saved! The muff was returned to flag holding service!

Cheshire, CT

Riverhead, New York

When superstorm Sandy crushed the east coast, Long Island’s Muffler Man Indian, also featured on the Sopranos, was sheered across the middle.

Riverhead, NY- Following Superstorm Sandy

He too was little more than a pair of muffler pants for a while.

Thankfully, Long Island’s beloved giant was repaired and is back to waving at the traffic in the town of Riverhead, NY.

Riverhead, NY

Muffler Men on the Move

As well-loved as muffler men are, it isn’t surprising that enthusiasts and collectors buy and move the giants from their long-term locations to new locales. Sometimes they move clear across the country.

And then sometimes, they just up and disappear altogether.

The Big White Guy of Massachusetts

Big White Guy – Chicopee, MA

This fella, previously referred to colloquially as “Plantation Man” as he stood outside of the Plantation Inn in Chicopee, Massachusetts – was sold at auction and then turned up in nearby Agawam, Mass. He stood there for a short time and is now MIA.

Big White Guy – Agawam, Ma.

From Mecca to Joshua Tree, California

Mecca, California

In 2016, I visited a muffler man who stood in the town of Mecca, California along the Salton Sea.

Fast forward to January 2020, and I visited that same muffler man, now sporting a new paint job and name. Meet Big Josh, of Joshua Tree, California.

Big Josh – Joshua Tree, California – 2020

AWOL – Desert Storm Muffler Man

I stopped to visit the Desert Storm muffler man in Havre de Grace, Maryland several times. As of 2015, he was taken down and moved to storage. Who knows where and when we’ll see him again?

Desert Storm Muffler Man – Havre de Grace, Maryland

Big Mike – Hayward, California Muffler Man

In 2014, we visited Big Mike in Hayward, California. He stood outside of a business that was boarded up. That’s typically a sign of uncertainty for the giants.

Hayward, California

Thankfully Big Mike was purchased and moved across town to Bell Plastics to keep a host of other giants company. He was even thrown a 50th birthday party!

Bell Plastics – Big Mike and friend – Hayward, California

Uniroyal Gal – The Ladies of the Muffler Man World

Rare in the muffler man world, there are only about a dozen known Uniroyal Gals in the wild. Seeing one is a treat for any muffler man lover.

The Uniroyal Gal of Pearsonville, California – Hubcap Capital of the World

Uniroyal Gal – Pearsonville, California – 2016

Nitro Girl – Uniroyal Gal Superhero

New Jersey is home to Nitro Girl, arguably the most badass of all the Uniroyal Gals. She’s my favorite of all the girls.

Nitro Girl – Blackwood, NJ

During my last stop to visit her, I was able to purchase a Nitro Girl bobblehead which stands proudly on my desk at work

Muffler Men - Nitro Girl bobblehead
Nitro Girl Bobblehead

Muffler Men Photos

If you too love muffler men keep scrolling for more photos of the big guys I’ve seen in my travels. Buckle up, there’s a lot to look at!

Alabama

Say, hello to Stan from Birmingham, Alabama. He’s a gemini and like lifting invisible weights. Hiiiii Stannnnn.

birmingham alabama - stan the muffler man
Birmingham, Alabama

California

cowboy muffler man happy camp california
Hat Creek, California
hayward california muffler man cowboy bell plastics
Hayward, California

I’ll be honest – there is something a bit creepy about the dead black-eyed stare and drawn on mustache of the Planada, Calfornia muffler man. It’s a wee bit, I dunno,… murdery? I believe this guy may have been sold or moved.

planada california muffler man
Planada, California
willits california muffler man cowboy
Willits, California
kevin van buys california muffler man
Kevin – Van Nuys, California
el salsero muffler man in mailbu california
El Salsero! – Malibu, California
babe - san jose california muffler man
Babe – San Jose, California
bakersfield california muffler man indian
Bakersfield, California

The house where the Mentone, California muffler man stands has a yard full of… stuff including a giant chicken army fiberglass rooster! It’s quite something.

mentone california muffler man bunyan
Mentone, California

Connecticut

cheshire connecticut house of doors bunyan muffler man - triumph bonneville motorcycle
Cheshire, Connecticut
norwich connecticut cowboy muffler man
Norwich, Connecticut

Georgia

The Washington Georgia muffler man has a formidable set of nostrils.

washington georgia muffler man
Washington, Georgia

Illinois

The Gemini Giant on Route 66 in Wilmington, Illinois was my holy grail of muffler men. My favorite of all. I love this guy!

gemini giant muffler man route 66 wilmington illinois
Gemini Giant – Route 66 – Wilmington, Illinois
lauterbach muffler man route 66 springfield illinois
Lauterbach Muffler Man – Route 66 – Springfield, Illinois

The shrimpy Harley-Davidson muffler man stands outside of the Pink Elephant Antique Mall which is chock full of interesting roadsidey goodness. Definitely worth a stop and a look-see.

harley-davidson muffler man livingston illinois
Livingston, Illinois
hot dog holding muffler man atlanta illinois route 66
Atlanta, Illinois -Route 66
surfer dude livingston illinois at pink elephant mall
Surfer Dude – Livingston, Illinois
big john metropolis Illinois
Big John – Metropolis, Illinois

Maine

rumford maine muffler man bunyan
Rumford, Maine

Maryland

berlin maryland mark cline muffler man cowboy with ice cream
Berlin, Maryland
ocean city maryland pirate muffler man
Ocean City, Maryland
desert storm muffler man - havre de grave maryland
Havre de Grace, Maryland

Massachusetts

big white guy muffler man agawam - texaco big friend - ktm 990 baja motorcycle
Big White Guy in Agawam, MA
shirely Massachusetts muffler man indian
Shirley, Massachusetts
yvon shrimpy muffler man groveland massachusetts
Yvon – Groveland, MA

New Jersey

halfwit in jackson new jersey
Jackson, New Jersey
ocean city new jersey pirate muffler man
Ocean City, NJ

You may recognize this muffler man from the opening credits of The Sopranos. He hangs out underneath the Pulaski Skyway.

sopranos muffler man - jersey city new jersey wilsons carpet
The Jersey City – Sopranos – Carpet Muffler Man
deerfield new jersey carpet store viking statue
Viking – Deerfield, NJ
mr bill - halfwit muffler man - winslow new jersey
Winslow, NJ
nitro girl uniroyal gal muffler man blackwood new jersey
Blackwood, New Jersey
magnolia new jersey muffler man
Magnolia, New Jersey
cowtown rodeo muffler man cowboy woodstown new jersey route 40
Cowtown Rodeo – Woodstown, NJ
seaside height new jersey halwit muffler man mini golf
Seaside Heights, New Jersey

New York

yasgurs farm hippie muffler man - bethel new york
Yasgur’s Farm – Bethel, NY – 2021
muffler man - around the work golf lake george new york
Lake George, New York
former magic forest muffler man - lake george new york
Lake George, New York – GONE
former magic forest muffler man - lake george new york
Lake George, NY – GONE
former magic forest muffler men - lake george new york
Lake George, NY – GONE
lake vanare new york one armed muffler man
Lake Vanare, NY
soda jerk mark cline muffler man derby new york
Derby, NY
former magic forest muffler man - lake george new york paul bunyan
Lake George, NY – GONE
irving new york muffler man indian
Irving, New York

This muffler man is in the town of Stony Point close to where I grew up. He’s a little sentimental for me because I actually took my dad to see him before he left this world.

stony point muffler man
Stony Point, New York

North Carolina

I believe that the Cherokee, North Carolina muffler man may be in storage.

former cherokee north carolina muffler man indian
Cherokee, North Carolina

I don’t know why but the face on this guy looked so amazed to me 🙂 And i love the sartorial choice of overalls!

raleigh north carolina muffler man
Raleigh, North Carolina

If he just isn’t the most friendly muffler man!

wilson north carolina white tire service muffler man
Wilson, North Carolina

Pennsylvania

uniontown pennsylvanie muffler man - one of the muffler men with eyelashes
Uniontown, Pennsylvania
kittanning pennsylvania muffler man holding a hamburger
Kittanning, Pennsylvania
greensburg Pennsylvania headless Pittsburg steelers muffler man
Greensburg, Pennsylvania
muffler men - big chip - coopersburg pennsylvania
Big Chip – Coopersburg, Pennsylvania – 2021

The Rockwood, Pennsylvania muffler man is only available for viewing when the campground is open. I had to check in at a booth and get a pass to enter the grounds. It’s worth it. He’s awesome!

muffler men royalty - red white and blue rockwood pennsylvania muffler man
Rockwood, PA

Tennessee

This burger-clutching muffler man stands on top of Pal’s Sudden Service in Kingsport, Tennessee.

pals sudden service kingsport tennessee muffler man holding a hamburger
Kingsport, Tennessee

Virginia

A muffler man… with an actual muffler!

newport news virginia muffler man holding an actual muffler
Newport News, Virginia
roanoke virginia muffler man
Roanoke, Virginia

This kooky amalgamation is called The Paulverizer.

paulverizer muffler man in buena vista virginia - a mark cline creation
Paulverizer – Buena Vista, Virginia

West Virginia

farnham colossi muffler men group in unger west virginia
The Farnham Colossi – Unger, WV

Learn More About Muffler Men

Hope you enjoyed this trip down road trip muffler man memory lane. If you’re interested in finding out about the history of, the latest news, and location maps for muffler men, these sites are excellent resources for more information:

Zacmax Serendipity Strikes Again, Again!

Zacmax Serendipity Strikes Again, Again!

Over the course of a lifetime, can you imagine how many highway exists you will pass and never take? Each of those untaken exits is home to lives lived, history made, untold highs, lows, curiosities, and facies tickled. The split second decision to take or not take an exit can alter the trajectory of a life forevermore.

In one such leap of faith, we hopped off of Route 17 south on an unfamiliar exit just to get off of the highway around Monticello. As we came to a stop at the end of the exit ramp, we were serendipitously greeted by this excellent ZacMax sculpture!

The town is Rock Hill, NY on Katrina Falls Rd near the Mobil Station.

zacmax sculpture rock hill new york

This encounter marks the second time in which I serendipitously met a Zacmax sculpture!

zacmax sculpture rock hill new york
zacmax sculpture rock hill new york

Super cool, isn’t he?

Retro New York: The Parksville Pharmacy

Retro New York: The Parksville Pharmacy

There’s been a pin on my Google map at the location of the Parksville Pharmacy, in the Sullivan County town of Parksville, New York for a long time. I first noticed the old building’s hunter green panels and weathered signage on Instagram. Social media for the win. 😉

Parksville Pharmacy Facade - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

Throughout the course of my life, I’m not sure just how many times I’ve passed the ghost town’s exit off of Route 17. And I’m amazed that I never caught a glimpse of the old store. During one of our cold weather drives, we wheeled through what is left of town to finally visit the map star in person.

Main drag in Parksville -  Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

There was absolutely nothing going on.

Parksville Pharmacy  Signs - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

Remnants of a former gas station.

Old Gas station Light - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY

I remember gas station lights like this from when I was a kid. Seeing it filled me with a funny sense of longing and… loss? Maybe that isn’t the right word, but whatever the sensation was, I felt it in my belly. In some strange way it almost felt like a broken heart.

My memory transported me back to gas stations of my youth with the ding-ding hose bells, colorful triangle-shaped flags, rotating brand signs, and these melancholy lamps hanging over the pump island.

My youth. Gone.

Parksville Pharmacy - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Parksville Pharmacy - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Parksville Pharmacy - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Parksville Pharmacy Door  - Sullivan County - Parksville, NY
Giant Chicken Army – Liberty, New York Edition

Giant Chicken Army – Liberty, New York Edition

Throughout the fall, winter and the cold parts of spring, I spent a lot more time driving than I did riding. Putting the heat vents on your feet, wearing gloves and a hat make driving with the top down on the convertible really lovely. Even down into the 40 degree temps.

Though it was dreary and rainy and the top remained decidedly up, one of my spring day trips in the car was around the Catskills where I’ve ridden many motorcycle miles. Sometimes the heart just wants to wander and so off you go.

We cruised up along the Delaware River, along Route 97 passing through Hawks Nest. Hooking a right on 55, we made our way through the town of Liberty where… what is this now?!

Well, well, well! If it isn’t a card carrying member of the Giant Chicken Army! Serendipity strikes again.

giant chicken army - fiberglass rooster - liberty new york

Do my eyes deceive me or do you too see the paint worn away in what can only be explained as people have clearly been sitting on this fine gentleman?

I myself did not attempt anything of the sort. With my luck I would’ve gotten unceremoniously wedged in the saddle and some bewildered passer by would have had to call the fire department to pry me loose.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

[distant hysteria on the line]

“What’s this now, ma’am? Ma’am, please. Ok. Ok, ma’am. Please, I can’t understand you if you keep laughing. Slow down. Pink hair…? Giant… chicken? Seven feet tall, you say?! Stuck? We’re dispatching the jaws of life.”

The corner of Main and Darbee hosts some lovely retrolicious sights. We’re treated to a “drugs” ghost sign, color-blocking and neon, a restored Gold Medal Flour mural, vintage signage and metal cladding hugging olde tyme display windows and decidedly fab swoopy handled doors.

gold medal flour mural - liberty new york

Liberty exudes the smoldering ember vibe that I love. Towns like this always have vintage treasures hiding in plain sight if you just slow down and take a look. Fading Americana.

krugs stationery neon sign liberty new rok
town & country neon sign liberty new york
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