Where will U go next?
July 22, 2012 12:47 PM   Subscribe

North Americans may have noticed that U-Haul trucks and trailers are emblazoned with colorful SuperGraphics. First created in 1988 (previously), the mobile gallery now comprises 206 images. Most U.S states and Canadian territories and provinces are now honored by multiple designs, as are the U.S. armed forces and 9/11. The classic America and Canada's Moving Adventure series, seen on trucks and trailers, features an iconic image for each state, province and territory. The Venture Across America and Canada series, begun in 1997, presents "carefully researched rare findings, little-known facts and mysteries," exploring science and nature, technology and history. At the U-Haul website, the "Learn More" link on each Venture SuperGraphic page leads to a surprisingly exhaustive discussion of the subject of each graphic.

The web design of the Learn More pages varies from the fairly simple (e.g. Delaware's horeshoe crab, New Hamphire's Mt. Washington) to the elaborately crafted (Iowa's Manson Crater, Minnesota's Runestone, Roswell, New Mexico.)

At the bottom of each Venture graphic page are links to the other designs for that state, province or territory, as well as desktop wallapers and a coloring-book PDF of the graphic to download.

The Venture SuperGraphics seem to be targeted at the nerdy among us, covering the following topics:

Alabama's Ketona Dolomite Glades
Florida's epiphytes (air plants)
Michigan's giant mushroom, armillari gallica
Nebraska's Miocene rhinos, and the volcanic eruption that killed them and preserved their fossils
North Carolina's carnivorous plants

Delaware's horseshoe crabs
Purdue scientists study Indiana's bioluminescent fireflys
Missisippi's sandhill crane
The language of bats in Missouri's Onandaga Cave
Manitoba's red-sided garter snakes
Newfoundland's giant squid

Connecticut's Rocky Hill dinosaur tracks
Idaho's fossil zebra, the Hagerman Horse
Illinois' Paleozoic "Tully Monster"
Maine's Ice Age sea life
New York's Museum of the Earth's Mastodon Matrix Project
South Dakota's Cretaceous sea turtle
Tennessee's Miocene red panda

Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds
New Jersey's flourescent mineral ores

New Hampshire's Mt. Washington
Oklahoma's Center for Weather Research, Forecasting and Education

Alaska's Tongass rain forest
Hawaii's fight against invasive species
Louisiana's Creole Nature Trail
Oregon's Crater Lake, the deepest U.S. lake
The living reef of Texas's Flower Garden Banks Marine Sancturary
The rain forest of Washington's Olympic National Park
Alberta's Burns' Bog
Saskatchewan's sand dunes

Arizona's Silcon Desert (Sadly, this page lacks a "Learn More" link.)
Georgia's Little Grand Canyon
Kentucky's Mammoth Cave
Iowa's Manson Impact Crater
The geographic center of the United States in North Dakota
Utah's Escalante Canyons
Virgina's Cape Charles meteorite crater
Prince Edward Island's "singing sands"

California's Planetary Society and the Mars Pathfinder rover
Colorado's NOAA Space Environment Center and space weather
Maryland's Goddard Space Flight Center and Hubble Space Telescope
West Virgina's Green Bank radio telescope
New Brunswick is home to the world's highest tides

Minnesota's Kensington Runestone
Ohio's Serpent Mound
Rhode Island's stone Touro Tower
Nunavut's inuksuit (Inuit stone markers)

Massechusett's Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
South Carolina's Hunley submarine
Alberta's secret indestructable aircraft carrier
The Northwest Territories' ice roads

The Weird
Nevada's Area 51
Roswell, New Mexico
Vermont's Lake Champlain monster
Nova Scotia's phantom ship

Montana native, Sacajawea
The Lewis and Clark expedition set forth from Pennsylvania
Wyoming explorer John Wesley Powell
Ontario's Underground Railroad
Old Quebec's Fortified Wall
posted by BrashTech (30 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Roadtrip checklist?
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 12:49 PM on July 22, 2012

Thanks for this! Although I've heard too many customer-service horror stories to want to rent a U-Haul, I've gotten to enjoy seeing these graphics along the road.

I always felt a bit sorry for Nebraska, South Dakota, and the other pre-Holocene attractions listed. I'm a big fan of paleontology myself, but it's pretty much admitting that they had to reach a heck of a ways back in order to figure out how to encourage you to go to South Dakota.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:53 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love these, but it seems like every second one I see is that goddamn Newfoundland squid. Thanks!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Great post!
posted by sacrifix at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2012

I love the weird geographical synesthesia of seeing a U-Haul with an Alberta license plate emblazoned with the "Salt Lake City" graphic in the middle of a small town in Newfoundland.
posted by oulipian at 1:05 PM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

HA! I just snapped a photo of the Wapakoneta Neil Armstrong Space Museum U-Haul last week while on the road! Huge fan of the "WAPAK!"
posted by TangerineGurl at 1:07 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

That unnecessarily massive and just-the-perfect-shade-of-I-AM-HELLSPAWNED-EVIL-GOING-TO-KILL-YOU green haunts me everywhere I go. Damn you, U-Haul, damn your cold, black heart.
posted by mediocre at 1:07 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've always loved that U-Haul celebrates Area 51 and Roswell.
posted by NoMich at 1:20 PM on July 22, 2012

If I were the company responsible for U-Haul trucks I'd try to disguise them too.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:32 PM on July 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

Once, we were about 100 miles out of town when our car died. Not having AAA or anything, I had to rent a U-Haul truck with one of those car trailers to haul my dead car back to my town.

Since it was our only car, and since I had to rent the U-Haul for several days, we went ahead a drove it around while we were paying for it.

Which is why we showed up at our neighbor's graveside funeral service in this huge truck with big colorful balloons all over it. We felt like we should have had clown suits on, getting out of that thing.

So, yes, very familiar with the graphics, thank you.
posted by Danf at 2:15 PM on July 22, 2012 [10 favorites]

I love the weird geographical synesthesia of seeing a U-Haul with an Alberta license plate emblazoned with the "Salt Lake City" graphic in the middle of a small town in Newfoundland.

Genius marketing that reinforces the idea that U-Haul is ubiquitous and thus convenient. Must be nice to be in a business where you charge people to drive your advertising around.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nice post!

The link and name for "Alberta's Burns' Bog" is wrong. It should be British Columbia's Burns' Bog.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:21 PM on July 22, 2012

the comments on nebraska are depressing, 3 new earth creationists saying there was no 10 million years ago and they'll never use u-haul again. i weep for reality.
posted by camdan at 2:25 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I appreciate that U-Haul makes the effort here, to inform and amuse.

Now, UPS, on the other hand.... There was a John Byrne Fantastic Four story, some years back, in which the Four and Nick Fury traveled back in time to punch Hitler. (That never works.) The sporty SHIELD car stands out against the 1940's traffic, so Fury uses the "hologram generator" to project the image of a UPS truck. Okay, crisis averted: we blend in with traffic from fifty years ago.

And, that's it, really: the UPS van is a symbol and cannot tolerate change. U-Haul, at least, is more playful.
posted by SPrintF at 2:33 PM on July 22, 2012

Man, RI gets it again! Mystery Tower (built by Benedict Arnold's grandfather, I believe), home of the America's Cup for 53 years, and a guy with a fife and a tricorn. Why not "RI Stole the Industrial Revolution from Great Britain" or "RI: Home of John Brown, but Not the Abolitionist John Brown?"

Of course, it's better than Hawaii: We Have Horrifying Spiders that Laugh as They Bite You.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:41 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The layout of the Minnesota Runestone page is quite clever and engaging.
posted by treepour at 2:49 PM on July 22, 2012

I'm from Michigan and I didn't even know we had humongous fungus!
posted by Mojojojo at 2:51 PM on July 22, 2012

What I noticed about U-Haul trucks was that the gas gauge had "E" at the top and "F" at the bottom which totally wasn't for deception at all.
posted by user92371 at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Argh, I see that Hawaii one everywhere. What are all of them doing over here on the East Coast???
posted by indubitable at 2:57 PM on July 22, 2012

Thanks for this post, and great first post!

treepour: The layout of the Minnesota Runestone page is quite clever and engaging.

Crater Lake's page is similarly well designed. Kudos to the web team behind this.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:04 PM on July 22, 2012

C'mon, at least an America's Moooving Adventure? Bo-vine!
posted by dhartung at 3:08 PM on July 22, 2012

Okay, so, for the longest time, I've wanted to be a web admin person for museums, building exhibits, showing off all sorts of awesome things.

I'm changing my mind. I totally want to be on the U-Haul web team. Because, oh man, you are all obviously having a fun time and I want to have fun too!

What I especially love about it is how it's not just awesome information, it's a fantastic way to see how the web has evolved, from "Site requires version 4 browser and 800x600 resolution" to the amazing Crater Lake page.

posted by Katemonkey at 3:55 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes! The Crater Lake page is really cool!
posted by redsparkler at 4:50 PM on July 22, 2012

I've always loved seeing these and never thought to look them up. Great post!
posted by Miko at 6:50 PM on July 22, 2012

I like motorcycle racing, was astonished to see they did one featuring it and Laguna Seca, a track in Monterey, California.
posted by ambient2 at 8:15 PM on July 22, 2012

The graphics are cool but I've never driven a U-Haul truck (I've rented several) that didn't seem like it was going to shudder to pieces at any speed over 45 mph.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:58 PM on July 22, 2012

I've rented from Budget and Ryder and it's the same thing. It's just a box truck effect. Not exactly aerodynamic.
posted by Miko at 5:29 AM on July 23, 2012

I recently had the (dis)pleasure of driving 1000 miles in a Budget box truck. fortunately, it was a brand new Ford chassis with the big block 6.2L gas motor, and as such it had no problem maintaining 70mph full-up. at least i think it was 70, the girl I was driving it for said my speedo must've been off by at least 5mph. but you really really have to fight bad aerodynamics. you can definitely feel how much the air is pushing back at you. even the short section of vertical box wall above the cab (at least on the 10'-14' lower-sized models) I think is enough to dramatically affect the way the truck moves through the air. why they don't have a molded section above the cab to reduce the drag installed on all their trucks is beyond me. and i've definitely seen this feature on non-rented commercial box trucks.

all that being said.. I've definitely rented/driven some seriously sketchy u-haul trucks. 4 (or 6) different tires, steering that had long since released itself from any connection at the tie-rods, engines with non-functioning cylinders, etc. it seems like u-haul has improved their fleet maintenance/replacement, though. but just a warning, if you rent a truck or trailer, try to at least visually examine it yourself before heading off. the guys working the counter are almost always just hourly lackeys, and the equipment gets moved around so much that they are definitely not the ones maintaining them.

ANYWAYS. haha. I had no idea there was so much info on the uhaul website. of all the times I've visited the site to price/rent stuff, I've never come across any of this. and they have t-shirts! for $15! although there's not one for any of the cool states like California or Oregon.. I'm really not gonna wear this one for a couple reasons: SNAKES
posted by ninjew at 8:57 AM on July 23, 2012

SPrintF: "And, that's it, really: the UPS van is a symbol and cannot tolerate change."

UPS has used four different logos in its history.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:28 AM on July 23, 2012

This is fascinating. Of course, it also helps to distract from the horrendously maintained trucks that UHaul rents out. The last one I rented didn't have a working speedometer.

"Officer, according to my speedometer I wasn't even moving. How could you possibly give me a speeding ticket?" :P
posted by antifuse at 4:00 PM on July 23, 2012

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