A Trip to New England – Part II: September 2015

This is Part II of my posts about our visit to New England, most specifically Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont (with a drive through Massachusetts).  Day 2 was a nice day of travel south to Mystic, CT and then north all the way to Maine.  Following is a map with our basic route

Map of Connecticut to Maine
Map of Connecticut to Maine

We took a fairly easy morning and went over to pickup our grandson Rockwell, who would join us on this two day adventure and off we went.

Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT

DSC_6882Our first stop was at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT.  This is actually a person’s house with a huge backyard full of self-sculpted dinosaurs.  The brainchild and creation of Jeff Wells, this unique “haven” got its start in 1981. He has well over 30 dinosaurs, including a life-size T-Rex, most of which are made from welded metal fabrication.  Some are pretty realistic!! (See a detailed writeup about Jeff Wells on Roadside America.)

Head of the T-Rex at Wells Dinosaur Haven
Head of the T-Rex at Wells Dinosaur Haven

DSC_6898Fairly easy to get to, you get off at Exit 79-A on I-395 , then immediately take Hwy 2A exit 1. Drive north on Hwy 32 for a half-mile. Wells Dinosaur Haven will be on the left, across the street from the casino. It’s back in the trees and easy to miss, but look for the red house, brown fence, and small dinosaur sign.

One of over 35 life-size dinosaur creations at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
One of over 35 life-size dinosaur creations at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Sumoflam and Bronto at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Sumoflam and Bronto at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT

Though visiting is free, Mr. Wells requests that you ask to enter.  So, we knocked on the door and I even called the number (860-848-0616) to get permission.  Nobody was home, so we went in and I made sure that we left nothing but tracks, a Guest Book Entry and a Donation.  It really was fun for the kids to walk through and see all of the dinosaurs.  The adults were fascinated too!

Dinos peek though the grass
Dinos peek though the grass
Another dinosaur type at Wells Dinosaur Haven
Another dinosaur type at Wells Dinosaur Haven

DSC_6888Jeff Wells’ work is very good.  I would count this place among my must see places that would include Jurrustic Park in Wisconsin, Enchanted Highway in North Dakota and others.   I will likely do a special post just on this place in the near future.

Welcome to Mystic, CT
Welcome to Mystic, CT
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife

After our visit in Uncasville, we were off to Mystic, CT for a visit and for lunch.  Founded in 1654, the town now has a little over 4000 residents.  Many know of the town due to the famous 1988 movie Mystic Pizza which helped kick Julia Roberts and Matt Damon off in their careers.  We had actually considered going there to eat, but decided against it after hearing numerous reports that it really wasn’t too good.

But, since it was the site of a well known movie, it was a fun place for a photo op! So, Julianne and I hit the scene and at least got a photo.  Wherever I am with my sweet wife is a slice of heaven!

Mystic Pizza cast with Lili Taylor, Annabeth Gish and Julian Roberts in 1988
Mystic Pizza cast with Lili Taylor, Annabeth Gish and Julian Roberts in 1988
Mystic, CT signpost
Mystic, CT signpost

DSC_6909Mystic is actually a very scenic New England coastal village.  They have a well known Aquarium (which we didn’t visit due to cost and time limitations), a seaport, which includes a unique museum called The Museum of America and the Sea, and nearby in Groton is the Historic Ship Nautilus and Submarine Force Museum.  Unfortunately, we had a tight schedule, so we opted out of these two museums as well.  But, we DID have time for lunch and opted for a local eatery that served Thai and Asian cuisine since we are all fond of that kind of food.

4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro, Mystic, CT
4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro, Mystic, CT

IMG_4639We discovered the 4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro on our drive in and turned around after our drive thru town to go grab lunch there.  It was a pleasant surprise to know that they also had a good number of vegan and vegetarian items on the menu, which made most of us happy.

The restaurant is not a large place, with only a few tables.  The staff was very friendly and helpful (and willing to handle a crowd with three adults and four young children).

4 Roosevelt Menu Board...changes frequently
4 Roosevelt Menu Board…changes frequently
The whole gang was ready for a good lunch!
The whole gang was ready for a good lunch!
Vegetarian Pad Thai with Tofu at 4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro in Mystic, CT
Vegetarian Pad Thai with Tofu at 4 Roosevelt Asian Bistro in Mystic, CT

Each of the kids got some kids specialities and I think there was some curry ordered and a couple of vegetable dishes.  I enjoyed the Pad Thai with tofu. The prices were reasonable and the food was excellent!

 

Welcome to New Hampshire! US State #48 for me.
Welcome to New Hampshire! US State #48 for me.

With tummies full, and palates pleasingly tantalized, we were ready to take off on the long drive north to Old Orchard Beach in Maine. We hopped on Interstate 95 and stayed on the road through Massachusetts, skirting around the traffic of Boston on I-495, a quick cut through New Hampshire and then into the bottom neck of Maine, my first visit there.  With a stop in New Hampshire’s Welcome Center Rest Area (in Seabrook, NH) and then into Maine, I had officially hit my 48th and 49th states in the United States!

Sign Post in Seabrook, NH
Sign Post in Seabrook, NH
On the road with da grandkidz in New England
On the road with da grandkidz in New England

After the brief stop in Seabrook, we were back on the road headed for Maine.  Unfortunately, I-95 offers few glimpses of the rocky coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.  You need to be on US Highway 1 to get those great views.  We were hsutling to get to Old Orchard Beacwhile the sun was still up so that the kids could play on the beach and Julianne and I could sit on the beach and watch the sunset.

 

View of Old Orchard Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from the Normandie Motor Inn
View of Old Orchard Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from the Normandie Motor Inn
Outside the Normandie Inn with grandson Rockwell
Outside the Normandie Inn with grandson Rockwell

We had made prior arrangements to stay at the Normandie Motor Inn, a 1960s style Motel that was literally right on the beach.  We were a two minute walk from our room to the beach. They had a special rate and it was perfect for us for the one night stay.

I think was actually my first time ever to stay in this kind of beachside motel.  I was close back in the 1980s when I stayed in a motor inn near Rehoboth Beach, DE, but it was a five minute drive from the beach. So, it was a thrill for this young-hearted grandpa!

Julianne and I enjoying sunset on the beach at Old Orchard Beach, ME
Julianne and I enjoying sunset on the beach at Old Orchard Beach, ME
Grandkidz enjoy their first look at the Atlantic Ocean on Old Orchard Beach
Grandkidz enjoy their first look at the Atlantic Ocean on Old Orchard Beach
Julianne and I watch the grandkidz playing on the beach in Old Orchard
Julianne and I watch the grandkidz playing on the beach in Old Orchard
Bell Buoy Menu
Bell Buoy Menu

We watched the sun go down and then we watched as some folks came in to do some night fishing for sea bass. Their poles were lit up with blue lights that would shake and shimmy when there was a fish on the line.   And, when the fun was over, we made our way into town to find some dinner and enjoyed some fresh seafood at a place called the Bell Buoy Restaurant.   It was very kid friendly though it also had a bar. The kids were all happy with their meals.

Waiting for dinner at the Bell Buoy in OOB
Waiting for dinner at the Bell Buoy in OOB
Outside for the required Selfie
Outside for the required Selfie

It was a long day…we were tired and finally made it to bed. The morning would bring us a wonderful sunrise and a new day of fun.  I’ll cover that in Part III.

(30)

2015 In Review: The Year In Travel

San Francisco, May 2015
San Francisco, May 2015
Seattle, WA August 2015
Seattle, WA, August 2015
New York City at night as seen from Hoboken, NJ
New York City at night as seen from Hoboken, NJ, September 2015
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

The year 2015 started off with plans to travel to a couple of locations,
but not the extent of the travel that I enjoyed in 2014. As it
turned out, I had

some great experiences and more travel than had been originally planned. It was truly a good year for my travel as I have noted in my blog posts and Facebook posts throughout the year.

Coast2Coast

Flying in 2015
Flying in 2015

Unlike most of my travel, which I like to do by car on back roads, the year’s travel adventures saw me traveling by airplane on a number of occasions. I don’t mind flying, honestly, but I prefer driving because I can see more of the landscape. However, schedules and other things necessitated my flying to many of the destinations I went to this year.

In a nutshell, in 2015 I was blessed with the opportunity to travel
to the West Coast twice. Once to the Seattle area and once to the
San Francisco area. I also made my way into my old home stomping grounds in Salt Lake City and was able to visit old friends and the beautiful mountains near Sundance Resort on a business trip.

Mount Timpanogos in Provo Canyon, UT
Mount Timpanogos in Provo Canyon, UT
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife
Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT with my sweet wife

And, one of my travel highlights of the year was being able to go to New England with my wife, my daughter Marissa and her children and visit the last three remaining states of my 50 states adventure. So, I finally
could say that I have set foot in all 50 states before I turned 60 (see my 50 State Review Here). We also had a couple of smaller road trips including one to Cincinnati and one to Louisville and were able to see if things on those trips as well.

Some of the major highlights of this year’s travel include:

One of the famed lighthouses on the Maine coast
One of the famed lighthouses on the Maine coast

-Visiting Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, just knocking out the
last of my 50 state visits in the United States (see the first of my blog posts about this trip)

Grampz with grandson Charles on the beach in Neah Bay, WA
Grampz with grandson Charles on the beach in Neah Bay, WA
Watching grandkidz play on Atlantic coast at Old Orchard Beach in Maine
Watching grandkidz play on Atlantic coast at Old Orchard Beach in Maine

-Setting foot on a Pacific Ocean beach (See Neah Bay Post here) and also setting foot on a beach in the Atlantic Ocean (Old Orchard Beach, ME post coming soon)

With my wife in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
With my wife in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

-An extended visit and travel around Washington state

Flying over the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in Colorado, including Mt. Evans
Flying over the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in Colorado, including Mt. Evans

-Flying over the Colorado Rocky Mountains and viewing the snow-capped peaks from an airplane

Happy Me at Woodflock
Happy Me at Woodflock

-Attending the famed “Woodflock” gathering in Red Bluff, CA
over memorial day holiday (see my Woodflock Post here)

Welcome to Santa Claus
Welcome to Santa Claus

-A year end trip with grandkidz to Santa Claus, IN at Christmastime (see my detailed blog post)

Heading east with the grandkidz!
Heading east with the grandkidz!

Along with all of this travel, I was able to see a number of unique and quirky sites. I ate at a couple of unique restaurants. Got to
spend time at one time or another with all of my 10 grandchildren.

Along the way I saw mountains, zoos, wildlife, coastal sunrises and sunsets, famed bridges, big cities, small villages.  Some of the more “unique” places can be seen below in pictures.  It was a great year!!

Sandwich, NH - Discovered that you cannot buy a sandwich in Sandwich, NH
Sandwich, NH – Discovered that you cannot buy a sandwich in Sandwich, NH

Following are a few shots of some of the more interesting places

Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA
Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA
Front side of Larry Kirkland's "Agraria" in Santa Rosa, CA
Front side of Larry Kirkland’s “Agraria” in Santa Rosa, CA
Fat Smitty's in Port Townsend, WA
Fat Smitty’s in Port Townsend, WA
Santa Claus Police in Santa Claus, IN
Santa Claus Police in Santa Claus, IN
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Dinos at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle, WA
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle, WA
Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Carlos Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ (famous from Cake Boss)
Carlos Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ (famous from Cake Boss)
Santa Claus exit and Sumoflam
Santa Claus, IN  exit and Sumoflam
Chilling on the porch at Sundance Resort in Utah
Chilling on the porch at Sundance Resort in Utah
Famed Pink Elephant Car Wash in Seattle
Famed Pink Elephant Car Wash in Seattle
"Cyclisk" - Obelisk made out of bicycle parts in Santa Rosa, CA
“Cyclisk” – Obelisk made out of bicycle parts in Santa Rosa, CA
Giant whale mural in Seattle
Giant whale mural in Seattle
Santa Claus Car Wash in Kringle Place - I guess Santa also has a car!
Santa Claus Car Wash in Kringle Place – I guess Santa also has a car!
An obligatory Hershey Kiss from Julianne, at Hershey Chocolate World, Hershey, PA
An obligatory Hershey Kiss from Julianne, at Hershey Chocolate World, Hershey, PA
Sumoflam at MrDHEO's wall painting in Lexington, one of a few new PRHBTN murals
Sumoflam at MrDHEO’s wall painting in Lexington, one of a few new PRHBTN murals
Welcome to Paradise - Washington
Welcome to Paradise – Washington

We all know who is really Nice!
We all know who is really Nice!

(29)

Christmas Time in Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus Post Office
Santa Claus Post Office

Over the years, I have traveled to a number of what I call “Theme Towns.” These would include places such as Vulcan, Alberta with its Star Trek theme (see post of my visit in 2007); Metropolis, IL and its Superman theme (see post of my visit); Hershey, PA and its chocolate theme (see post about recent visit in 2015); Roswell, NM with an alien theme; Douglas, WY and its Jackalope theme (see post here); and Hell, MI with its Devils and hell-fire (see post here). Another one I visited back in 2012 was Santa Claus, IN with its Santa and Christmas inspired themes. That visit was a short pass-thru visit on my way west to Kansas City.

Family off to visit Santa Claus (Indiana, that is)
Family off to visit Santa Claus (Indiana, that is)
SumoSanta and Mrs. SumoSanta having fun
SumoSanta and Mrs. SumoSanta having fun
Grandson Landen Noe on his 7th birthday
Grandson Landen Noe on his 7th birthday

On my grandson Landen’s 7th birthday, Dec. 17, we gathered up Landen, his sisters and his cousin Rockwell, along with my daughter Marissa and my wife and took a day trip to visit Santa Claus during the holiday season. It was a lovely, though quite cold, day to take the two and a half hour trek from our own horse and bourbon themed Lexington up to Santa Claus.

Santa Claus exit and Sumoflam
Santa Claus exit and Sumoflam

Our trip up was uneventful. It was cloudy in the morning so we didn’t
see a sunrise. However, by the time we got to the Santa Claus exit off
of I-64 west, the skies was bright with sunshine and a few spotty
clouds.

We got into town about 11:30 EST, but it was Central Time there. Our
intent was to head to lunch first and then visit the town.

Welcome to Santa Claus
Welcome to Santa Claus

 

Kringle Place shopping center in Santa Claus, IN
Kringle Place shopping center in Santa Claus, IN

One might think that Santa Claus would have a quaint little rustic
downtown area with Christmas-like cottages and a Gatlinburg-esque
atmosphere. Unfortunately, this is not really the case. Though there
are Santa statues throughout the small town, the actual town consists of a strip mall (Kringle Place) with a few Christmas-themed shops, then, a couple miles down the road there is a museum, the original post office, an old church and the “Candy Castle.” The town has a hotel called Santa’s Lodge, with a restaurant called St. Nick’s. There is a campground at Lake Rudolph. Besides the Santa-themed attractions, the biggest drawing card to the town is the Holiday World Amusement Park with its huge roller coasters and water slide amusements. Obviously, at this time of the year it is closed for the season.

Santa Claus Car Wash in Kringle Place - I guess Santa also has a car!
Santa Claus Car Wash in Kringle Place – I guess Santa also has a car!

 

Santa Coke Machines dot the town of Santa Claus, IN
Santa Coke Machines dot the town of Santa Claus, IN

Thus, this visit to Santa Claus was really in the “off season” though,
for three weekends in December the town is bustling with Christmas
visitors and its variety of Christmas activities, some of which were
still available on this particular Thursday visit. (Mind you, the
County Tourism office recommended I visit on Saturday, but that wasn’t going to work for us).

We got to St. Nick’s restaurant at 10:45 and it didn’t open until 11,
so we kind of hung around the lobby of the Santa’s Lodge hotel, which
was nicely decked out for Christmas. The town really has sparse

St. Nick's Restaurant in Santa Claus, IN
St. Nick’s Restaurant in Santa Claus, IN

dining options. Besides the obviously Santa-themed St. Nick’s, the only other options appeared to be a Subway (with a Santa out front) and a Pizza/Sandwich place in the Kringle Plaza strip mall. If you want to eat vegan, good luck!

St. Nick's Menu
St. Nick’s Menu
Seating at St. Nick's Restaurant in Santa Claus, IN
Seating at St. Nick’s Restaurant in Santa Claus, IN

 

St. Nick's Kid's Menu
St. Nick’s Kid’s Menu

St. Nick’s has a few Christmas designs and the menu is certainly Christmasy. The menu items were typical American faire. We were there on a slow day and found little that we could eat (as far as vegetarian options were concerned.) We ordered the tri-color tortellini with artichoke pesto, kind of excited about the Christmas colored noodles. But, much to our dismay, our server came back a few minutes later to tell us it had been discontinued and that the “new owners” we’re getting “new menus” soon. So, we opted for the salad bar, which sufficed (somewhat). All the kids got kids meal chicken fingers and fries, which were hefty. I asked about the “Reindeer Paws,” which were advertised on the Santa Claus, IN website (see here), and our server had never heard of them.  Apparently they used Reindeer Paws as the name of their Buffalo Wings but no longer.

Grandkidz waiting for their chicken strips and fries at St. Nick's
Grandkidz waiting for their chicken strips and fries at St. Nick’s

By this time, my wife was already noting another “Sandwich Fail,”
referring to our September 2015 trip to New England and our out of the way drive to Sandwich, NH to get a sandwich (and our ultimate discovery that there are no places in Sandwich to get a sandwich).

St. Nick's Restaurant
St. Nick’s Restaurant

Though the waitress was pleasant, the food was lackluster. But, in a town with few choices, it was probably better than the other two places.  Thankfully, they gave us a 10% discount due to all of the troubles. That was helpful considering the cost of meals for seven people.

Some of Santa's Lodge Christmasy decor
Some of Santa’s Lodge Christmasy decor
Santa's Lodge Christmas Tree with the grandkidz
Santa’s Lodge Christmas Tree with the grandkidz

Now that tummies were full, we were ready to venture into town and see all of the offerings of this small Indiana village.  Our first stop was some photo shoots inside and outside of Santa’s Lodge.  The interior is nicely decorated for Christmas (perhaps year around).  And, outside, they have the 10 foot tall “Angry Santa” statue — that’s what I call it anyway.  He doesn’t look too friendly, though he did pat me on my head!

Good boy Sumoflam
Good boy Sumoflam
Angry Santa
Angry Santa
Julianne and Grandkidz cuddling with the "Angry Santa"
Julianne and Grandkidz cuddling with the “Angry Santa”

DSC_7681From Santa’s Lodge we decided to head over to the Santa Claus Museum and Village, which was east on IN 245 a bit past IN 162. The old historic Post Office and old Santa Claus Church are located there, along with a 20 foot tall Santa Statue.  The Santa Claus Museum features historical documents, photos and artifacts illustrating the progression from the tiny settlement of Santa Fe (pop. 65) to the present day town of Santa Claus. Exhibits feature the story behind the town’s famous name, the history of tourism, and artifacts highlighting the town’s unique history. The town was established in 1854 and known as Santa Fe (pronounced “fee”). In 1856, when the town was working to establish a post office, the United States Postal Service refused their first application as there was already a Santa Fe established with the USPS. Several town meetings were held, during which the name Santa Claus was selected.

Santa Claus Statue near the Santa Claus Museum
Santa Claus Statue near the Santa Claus Museum (as seen in Dec. 2015)
Santa Claus Statue as seen in January 2010 when I passed through
Original Santa Claus, IN Post Office
Original Santa Claus, IN Post Office

The town now has the world’s only post office to bear the name of Santa Claus. Because of this popular name, the post office receives thousands of letters to Santa from all over the world each year. A group of volunteers known as Santa’s Elves ensures each child receives a reply from Santa Claus; this tradition has been in existence since at least 1914.

One of "Santa's Elves" helping out at the old Post Office where the grandkidz could write letters to Santa
One of “Santa’s Elves” helping out at the old Post Office where the grandkidz could write letters to Santa
Landen writes to Santa Claus at the Santa Claus Post Office
Landen writes to Santa Claus at the Santa Claus Post Office
An elf guards the Santa Letter mailbox
An elf guards the Santa Letter mailbox

DSC_7656DSC_7664

Writing letters at Santa Claus Post Office
Writing letters at Santa Claus Post Office (photo by Marissa Noe)

The kids sat the old style desks to write their letters to Santa.  It was a nice little unique atmosphere.

After each child completes their letter, the parents (or children) include their mailing address on the letter and Santa will send them a letter to respond to them. There is no charge for this.  It is a fun concept for the kids (and donations are accepted for those wishing to help out Santa’s volunteers)

Plaque on old Santa Claus Church
Plaque on old Santa Claus Church

Just behind the old Post Office is the old church.  It is a small, cozy building.   It was built in 1880 and still is heated by a wood burning stove.

The inside is sparse, but warm.  There is a nice nativity scene at the front.  The grandkidz went in and sat down in one of the pews and all sang Silent Night together.  It was really sweet!

Grandkidz sing Silent Night in the old Santa Claus Church
Grandkidz sing Silent Night in the old Santa Claus Church (photo by Marissa Noe)
Singing Silent Night
Singing Silent Night
Old Plaque on Church
Old Plaque on Church (St. Paul’s Kirche – 1880)
The Old St. Paul's Church in Santa Claus, IN, built in 1880
The Old St. Paul’s Church in Santa Claus, IN, built in 1880
An ornament adorns a branch on a tree in front of the Santa Claus Museum
An ornament adorns a branch on a tree in front of the Santa Claus Museum
Ornaments on a decorated tree in front of the Santa Claus Museum
Ornaments on a decorated tree in front of the Santa Claus Museum
Couldn't resist a selfie n the old church
Couldn’t resist a selfie n the old church

12398520_10153790433132090_1021391118_oA little on further down the road is “Santa’s Candy Castle,” the perfect place to pick up some goodies for the kids.  And during the Christmas season, they also provide an opportunity for the kids to chat with Santa’s Elves in the North Pole online and find out if they have been Naughty or Nice. Its a nice interactive thing for the kids to do and they get a certificate afterwards that is encased in plastic!  (There is a cost involved, but I was able to get coupons online and save a few dollars at santaclausind.org)

Naughty and Nice
Naughty and Nice

We had already determined who was Naughty and Nice between Mom and Daughter….but the grandkidz needed to wok with the north Pole elves to get that determination.

The interactive program on the computers requires a special code and each child is assigned to a specific elf for their interview.  The Elves ask a few questions and then make some advice before they finalize the certificates.  The kids have fun with this and so the adults!

Naughty Grandma helping the birthday boy take his survey
Naughty Grandma helping the birthday boy take his survey
Rockwell taking his North Pole Elf survey. He ended up on the Nice list!
Rockwell taking his North Pole Elf survey. He ended up on the Nice list!
The Grandkidz all made the Good List (photo by Marissa Noe)
The Grandkidz all made the Good List (photo by Marissa Noe)
The PEZ Wall at Santa's Candy Castle
The PEZ Wall at Santa’s Candy Castle

Then came the BEST part of the visit to the Candy Castle….yep, the Candy!!  The store has a Jelly Belly Room, a giant PEZ wall and a huge assortment of favorite goodies, even some that are not typically seen in the eastern US (such as the Rocky Road Bars).  Each of the grandkidz got to choose ONE thing for being on the good list (per Grampz).

Hello Kitty Collector PEZ
Hello Kitty Collector PEZ
One of the Jelly Belly Walls
One of the Jelly Belly Walls
SCORE! Tabasco flavored Jelly Belly candies!! How exciting!
SCORE! Tabasco flavored Jelly Belly candies!! How exciting! (See more)

Then there are the Bean Boozled Flavors – including such yummy goodies as Skunk Spray, Toothpaste, Booger, Vomit, Baby Wipes, Moldy Cheese, Stinky Sock, and Grass Clippings.  YUM!  And yes, we got some of these too.  Take the Bean Boozled Challenge if you dare…I have and lived to tell about my vomit and skunk spray experiences.

Bean Boozled Poster
Bean Boozled Poster

The Candy Store also offers a variety of fudge, popcorn and taffy flavors all served up by Santa’s Nice Little Helpers who were there for us on this day.  If you dare (which we didn’t) you could try out the famed Frozen Hot Chocolate.

Santa's Helpers at the Candy Castle.
Santa’s Helpers at the Candy Castle.

The Candy Castle also has a few ornaments and books as well as a Santa Claus Hall of Fame wall.  Here are a few more photos from this fun place.

Santa Claus Wall of Fame
Santa Claus Hall of Fame
Welcome Sign
Welcome Sign
Hats - including a Humbug Hat
Hats – including a Humbug Hat
Sumoflam at the North Pole
Sumoflam at the North Pole
At Santa's Candy Castle
At Santa’s Candy Castle

My daughter in law Holly wanted us to pick up a nice ornament from Santa Claus.  She SPECIFICALLY asked my daughter to get it and didn’t want to ask me.  When I called her and asked her why she wouldn’t want me to do it she said “I don’t want you bringing home a pickle ornament or some other weird ornament.”  Ironically, I had never heard of a pickle ornament.  But, t my amazement, there were indeed pickle ornaments for sale at Santa’s Candy Castle.  They even came along with a story.

Pickle Ornaments
Unique Pickle Ornaments

According to whychristmas.com the story of the Pickle Ornament is as follows:

The tradition of the Christmas Pickle has got to be one of the strangest modern Christmas customs in that no one is quite sure why it exists at all! It was claimed that the Christmas Pickle was a very old German tradition and that the pickle was the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and then the first child to find the pickle got an extra present. Some families now have the tradition of hanging the pickle on the tree, with the first person/child to find it getting a present. But it probably didn’t start in Germany!

Christmas Pickle
Christmas Pickle

Needless to say, we got Holly her nice ornament, but ALSO got her a Christmas Pickle ornament.  I couldn’t resist.  We read the little info sheet to all at the family gathering.  “An age-old German good luck emblem, this realistic, hand-painted glass ornament adds a touch of legend and humor to holiday decorating. According to tradition, the first child to find the pickle ornament, which parents hide deep within the trees boughs, gets an extra gift from St. Nick.” Oh what fun it was!

Even the Grinch frequents the Candy Castle!
Even the Grinch frequents the Candy Castle!

DSC_7708Now that we determined that the kids were all good and that they were all candied up, we got back in the van and headed over to Kringle Place to visit some of the shops there and maybe, just maybe, get a chance to see the REAL Santa. The Santa Claus Christmas Store has a HUGE selection of Christmas collectibles including ornaments, nativities, Christmas decor items and a special room to visit Santa Claus…a really special one.

Hundreds of ornaments at the Christmas Store
Hundreds of ornaments at the Christmas Store
More ornaments
More ornaments
Classy Santa Ornaments
Classy Santa Ornaments
Santa Decor
Santa Decor
Santa with Santa
Santa with Santa
Kids fascinated by Silent Night musical diorama
Kids fascinated by Silent Night musical diorama
More Santa Decor
More Santa Decor

Then of course, there was the chance visit with the REAL Santa Claus. Marissa said it best…  “This Santa was pretty awesome. Lyla wasn’t even scared at all- which has not been the case for the fast few we have seen. And I just loved the chair. After asking the children what they wanted for Christmas he asked them if they knew why we really celebrated Christmas. And then they had a conversation about Jesus. (And look at his chair!)

Santa with the Grandkidz
Santa with the Grandkidz (photo by Marissa Noe)
The upper part of Santa's unique chair at the Christmas Store
The upper part of Santa’s unique chair at the Christmas Store

By this time we were pretty zonked.  Marissa and Julianne still wanted to do some shopping, so I took the kids and we took a drive around the rest of the town.  We found a few unique surprises along the way as we did.

Santa Claus Police
Santa Claus Police

To my surprise and delight,  we discovered a Santa Claus Police Car!  I asked the kids why they would need a Police Car in Santa Claus and Landen piped up with “Santa needs someone to decide who is Naughty and who is Nice.”  HA!  And now, I have another unique Police Car to add to my collection as well.  here are a few other Santa Claus fun places.

Saint Nicholas Catholic Church
Saint Nicholas Catholic Church
Wondering if this is where the old Santas go??
Wondering if this is where the old Santas go??
Holly Tree
Holly Tree
A statue of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in front of Saint Nicholas Catholic Church. Most Catholic churches just have a Mary...so this was unique
A statue of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in front of Saint Nicholas Catholic Church. Most Catholic churches just have a Mary…so this was unique
Volunteer Fire Department
Volunteer Fire Department
Up on the Rooftop
Up on the Rooftop
Candy Castle Road
Candy Castle Road
Santa Reading at the bank
Santa Reading at the bank drive-thru

And then there are the many Santa Claus” statues in town.  The town even has a hashtag “#SantaSelfie”.  I saw at least a dozen Santa statues around town at the banks, the post office, the library, the Subway sandwich shop, and other places.

These are all themed to give that wonderful feeling as one travels around town.  Even the City Hall is decked out with a Santa Claus and holiday decorations.

Some of the Santas around town are whimsical. Others are much more traditional.  Some are life size and others are larger than life.  Here are a few more of the Santas around town.

Santa Claus City Hall Santa Statue
Santa Claus City Hall Santa Statue
This Santa sits in a loft on top of the Holly Tree shop
This Santa sits in a loft on top of the Holly Tree shop
A Chain Saw Art Santa at Santa's Candy Castle
A Chain Saw Art Santa at Santa’s Candy Castle
A Santa Selfie with the Santa in front of the Tourism Office
A Santa Selfie with the Santa in front of the Tourism Office
A Waving Santa at Santa's Lodge
A Waving Santa at Santa’s Lodge
Another Santa Claus reading a book
Another Santa Claus reading a book
Santa Claus Welcome Sign
Santa Claus Welcome Sign
Santa Claus Chillin
Santa Claus Chillin
A Santa Selfie
A Santa Selfie

And finally, even Sumoflam gets to meet Santa Claus in person!!  He told me I was a good boy this year!!

Sumoflam Santa with Santa Claus in Santa Claus, IN
Sumoflam Santa with Santa Claus in Santa Claus, IN

 

 

 

 

 

(52)

Enjoying the Ride on the Back Roads of America

© 2014-2016 Sumoflam Productions All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright

%d bloggers like this: