Jacques-André Istel is the father of American skydiving, Honorary Soviet Master of Sports and French Legionnaire, and the founder, mayor, and only resident (with his wife) of the desert town of Felicity, California. Felicity is a wondrous place. Inspired by a children's book he wrote, Istel managed to have the town officially designated as the Center of the World. It is also the home of the Museum of History in Granite, 431 carved panels of the history of the world, written by Istel and copy-edited by his wife with a modern Rosetta Stone to help people 4,000 years from now interpret it. Seriously, just look at the panel about the moon.
Stewart's Petrified Wood is a shop off of I-40 in Holbrook, Arizona with giant animatronic dinosaurs eating, and sometimes being ridden by, somewhat decrepit mannequins. Also, there's an ostrich farm. [more inside]
"Today you.... tomorrow me." Have you ever picked up a hitch-hiker? A redditor shares a moving story. [more inside]
U.S. Patent 1732708 "...relates to street torches, such as are commonly used for illuminating road obstructions." Starting in 1929, The Toledo Pressed Steel Co. manufactured millions of small, round kerosene-burning torches (sometimes called smudge pots) that look like cartoon bombs. [more inside]
Prattville, Alabama, is home to the Cross Garden of W. C. Rice. Pour yourself a cold drink and take a tour through this Flickr gallery. Make that drink ice water, as YOU WILL DIE, YOU DO NOTHING TO GO TO HELL, and TO LATE IN HELL FIRE WATER.
Roadside Architecture. "I have been passionate about commercial architecture and roadside related things all my life. I grew up in California but New York City has been my home since 1980. I started this website in 2000 simply as a way to organize my own photos. Since then, it has become a bit of an obsession and grown to well over 1,000 pages." flickr. blog. [more inside]
Claude Bell's giant Cabazon Dinosaurs sculptures have been bought by a Christian developer, Answers in Genesis. The LA Times (archived copy) discusses.
Years ago, Jane and Michael Stern authored Amazing America, a fabulous book about roadside America, which was one of my favorite references for something novel to see while traveling in the US. The New Jersey section is far too brief. Thank you Weird NJ for filling in the gap.
Roadside memorials. Every so often you'll catch one out of the corner of your eye--a makeshift cross on the side of a highway, or flowers tacked to a highway sign, marking a life that ended in that spot. Gives me chills--realistically, probably every single day we pass places where someone breathed their last, but we don't know it. Photographer Bill Sampson takes photographs of roadside memorials--called "descansos" from a Spanish word meaning rest--and collects them on his site. Loved ones are invited to submit memorials of their own. (Link via USA Today Web Guide.)
They are the silent sentinels of America's roads. If you travel at all (or if you read Zippy), you have seen them. They may wear giant hats, or look like Alfred E. Neuman, but they are everywhere. But what you may not know is that one guy made them all.