Monday, January 28, 2013

Roadside America: Part II - Weird, Wacky, Tacky and Wonderful

Virtually every geology-based road trip I've been on has had its share of unforgettable side-trips, off-beat detours and unplanned turn-offs. Many of them weren't on the map and couldn’t be found again if you tried. The best part, second to the geology, was the adventure of the unexpected and the inexplicable waiting at every turn.

That’s when you see the unusual signage, the eccentric pieces of art, the unique architecture, the kitschy sculptures, the cheesey tourist attractions, the poignant juxtapositions, and all the wacky, tacky, bizarre and oddball attractions that are so characteristic of America.

Here are some examples on the lighter-side of what I’ve seen along the geology-road from here to there in this Part II of a work-in-progress. Click here to see Part I. Every photo was taken last summer while cruising the Colorado Plateau in New Mexico and Colorado with my friend and geology mentor, Wayne Ranney

In the northwestern corner of New Mexico, the image of the Shiprock diatreme in the distance was replicated in the architecture of Shiprock High School seen in this juxtaposition.

Even McDonalds in the town of Shiprock has gotten into the act.

An electrifying juxtaposition. 

This poignant, Cherokee-inspired, metallic sculpture on the Navajo Reservation decorated the roadside on the outskirts of the town of Shiprock, New Mexico

A bovine lawn ornament in Mancos, Colorado, the pink flamingo of the 50's 

“Nothing Satisfies Like Beef” sign on a livestock barn 
between Mancos and Durango, Colorado 

Outside Durango, this fantastic antler-archway decorates the walkway to a store. 

Outhouse near Baker’s Bridge, Colorado. Occupancy limited to one. 

This rusty 1950’s Art Deco, Crosley Shelvador refrigerator was keeping
the outhouse company. You can actually buy one on ebay for big bucks. 

We’re peering into the past at the wide, unpaved boulevard of Blair Street in the mining town of Silverton, Colorado. The town was established in 1874 in the wake of the Gold Rush of 1860 in the San Juan Mountains. The entire town is designated a National Historic Landmark. Although appearing like an average street out west, it’s actually the notorious side of town where prostitution, saloons, dance halls, gambling and robbery were prevalent back in the day. In fact, over half of the town’s forty saloons and brothels are still standing. An imaginary line down Greene Street through the center of town separated Blair Street from the respectable side of town where law-abiding, church-going residents lived. Mining in Silverton closed down in the early 1990’s, but you can be sure there’s still gold in “them thar hills.”
Silverton, Colorado  

One room schoolhouse in Malachite, Colorado, for sale. “Own a piece of history” with 36 acres off the main highway "for privacy and quiet" for $90,000. Cheap! 

"No Fishing” sign on Royal Gorge Bridge outside of Canon City, Colorado.
At 856 feet above the Arkansas River, that’s one long line cast!
Check out the great geology of this funky tourist trap on Wayne Ranney's post here

There’s no better multi-tasker than a geologist. They’re actually trained in school to careen their necks at roadcuts while flying down the highway at breakneck speeds. This geologist (who shall remain nameless) obviously graduated at the top of the class.

This lifelike mural was on the side of a brick building in Delta, Colorado,
and perfectly blended in with the landscape.

Custom shop for the rehab of vintage cars and trucks. Limit one per customer.
Delta, Colorado

Fantastic futuristic 1950’s motel sign in Delta, Colorado 

If there’s a Jurassic Park, there must be a Jurassic Court.
Fruita, Colorado

A stegosaurus lawn ornament
Fruita, Colorado

You’ll only see this crossing sign west of the Mississippi.
Colorado National Monument, Fruita, Colorado

Somewhere in rural Colorado, perhaps near Cortez 

So much geology. So little time. Yours truly. 
Colorado National Monument, Fruita, Colorado.


  1. Fantastic photo's Jack! And of course, your description of each is spot on. Thank you, WR

  2. Jack, this is wondrous, unforgettable,and evocative of my journeys through this magical space.

  3. Thank you Wayne and Mr. Anonymous for such wonderful comments! Jack

  4. The first photograph is Northern Navajo Medical Center not Shiprock High School.

  5. Tee, My apologies...I stand corrected! Thank you, Jack