C is for Car Art – #atozchallenge

What is April A to Z?

Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then visit as many other bloggers as you can.

Car art. What is it? And what is it about cars that makes someone want to create art with it. Many a travel blogger has visited sites that include car art of some sort. This particular writer is included in that group, and, in fact, is an avid seeker of car art of all forms.

 

Cadillac Ranch as seen from Interstate 40 west of Amarillo, Texas

Over the years I have discovered numerous “car art installations.” These are places where something was created from cars.

Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas in August 2013

Perhaps the most famous of these set just east of Amarillo, Texas. Known as “Cadillac Ranch,” it features a set of Cadillacs buried at a 45° angle in the ground going across the ground for about a quarter-mile. Fans of quirky roadside attractions have stopped by this place for many years. Nowadays you can see a different installation nearly every day as people bring spray paint cans with them and add their art to the cars. Though perhaps the most famous of all car art, it is not the only installation of its kind in this country.

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – Staunton, Illinois
Sumoflam with buried cars at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, IL

There are others that have tried to imitate in some way shape or form the Cadillac ranch concept. Take for instance Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois. Like Cadillac Ranch, Rabbit Ranch sits on US Highway 66. There is a great deal of Route 66 paraphernalia and souvenirs available. But, they also have five or six Volkswagen rabbits buried halfway into the ground. Unlike Cadillac Ranch, they do not allow spray paint all over the cars.

VW Hare at Ra66it Ranch
Slugbug Ranch in Conway, TX (photo courtesy of Roadside America)

There is also a Volkswagen Bug Ranch in Conway, Texas that has a few Volkswagen bugs and some old cars buried. We visited there many many years ago and unfortunately my photographs of the place have disappeared.

But, burying cars is not the only form of car art. There is yet another practically world famous attraction made with cars in Alliance, Nebraska. Known as “Carhenge” it is probably the only Stonehenge-type of Car Art installation. Indeed, they have tried to match Stonehenge’s look and feel but with cars that have all been painted a silvery gray.

Carhenge – May 2014
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE (check out the hat!)
Donating on of my “MARDUP” license plates at Carhenge. I wonder if it is hanging on the wall…
Spider Volkswagen – Wolf Creek, Oregon

 

Others try to make cars into art in a number of fashions. On the back road trip in Oregon a few years ago I came across someone’s farm that had two big giant spiders made from a Volkswagen beetle and another car. And there are other similar “car spiders” to be found dotting places in the United States.

Spider Car – Wolf Creek, Oregon
Old cars in trees near Albatross, Missouri

There are also a few “car artists” that have placed their old rusted out vehicles in strategic locations so they can be seen. Take the three really old cars sitting in the midst of trees and grass. They are a little on the rusty side but still interesting.  These were seen near a place called Albatross, MO.

 

Old Cars in Hargett, KY
A couple of old cars near Hurley, WI as seen from Route 2
Old Car – Nebraska City, Nebraska
Swamp Thing Chevy pickup in Uncertain, Texas
Old Trucks – Rio Brazos Music Hall – Granbury, Texas

Or, how about the Rio Brazos Music Hall near Granbury, TX that has some pick up trucks placed in a 45° angle at the entrance? Is this not car art?

And cars are not the only ones didn’t get to experience being turned into artwork. Also in Texas, just north of Houston in Cypress, there is a huge hamburger joint that has two big school buses that have been turned into a Canvas.

The Shack Bus – one of two at the Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, TX
The Smoke Sax – Houston, Texas (currently in storage)

In another twist, there are the car artists that literally take parts of cars and create new art from them. One was a giant saxophone made out of a Volkswagen in Houston. Unfortunately, it is currently no longer available to be seen, but I was able to grab a photo of it a few years ago.

VW Base of the Smoke Sax
Scrap metal buck made from car parts – Kadoka, South Dakota

 

In Kadoka, South Dakota, someone is taking a number of car parts and created a giant deer. And in Montana, surrounding the Blackfoot Indian reservation there are a number of Indian chiefs that have been built from car parts.

 

 

 

South entrance to the Blackfeet Nation
Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in East Glacier, Montana

Finally, there is the one last piece of car art that is no longer around but really needs to be noted in this. Back a few years ago there was an iconic piece of car art that appeared in the movie Wayne’s World. Titled “Spindle,” the piece of art had eight or nine cars stuck on a spike and it was on display in a shopping center in Berwyn, Illinois. In 2015, the display was taken down to make room for a new Walgreens. Unfortunate.

“Spindle” by Dustin Shuler was in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until it was removed in May 2008
The famed “Spindle” sculpture as seen in the movie Wayne’s World. Apparently, it wasn’t worthy. This was taken in 2007 and in 2008 it was torn down…meh

When you get out on the road, make sure to watch for Card. You’ll be glad you did!

Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Art Car at Third Street Stuff – Lexington, Kentucky
Part of a car hood attached to the building at Boudreau’s Antiques in Wisconsin

(36)

The Story Behind the Story Inn – Story, Indiana

A couple of weeks ago (Feb. 25, 2017) we took a trip to Indianapolis for a meeting for my wife and daughter.

As is typically the case, I wanted to go along and drive some back roads.

Save $33 with combo ticket to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! attractions in Gatlinburg, TN. Get one ticket to the aquarium plus four tickets to parkway attractions.

Welcome to Story, IN

I am always on the lookout for unique and interesting places to visit and we did find one on this particular trip. We visited a little community in Indiana called Story.

Map of Story, IN

Story probably only has about 100 people or less in the village.  It was founded in 1851 by Dr. George Story who received a land grant from then President Millard Fillmore. By the 1880s the town had become one of the largest settlements in the area.  At one time it had two general stores, a church, a schoolhouse, a sawmill, a grain mill and even a post office.  However, the Great Depression took its toll on this town as families abandoned this hilly farm area in search of employment.

Old Story Inn Sign

The village looks much like it did in the 1930s with a few rustic buildings.

Story Inn, Story, Indiana

In the center of it all is a unique little country inn called the “Story Inn.” This rustic building includes a little general store, a nice cozy eatery, and some historically rustic overnight accommodations all in a natural setting. They even offer a bed and breakfast.

The rustic Story Inn in Story, IN. “One Inconvenient Location Since 1851.”
The Entry Way to the Story Inn
Story Inn front porch
The Story Inn’s unique 1851 Burger with bacon jam

They don’t have an extensive menu but they do have a few things that are interesting and so we ordered some of the food and had lunch there. My daughter Marissa had a salad with their homemade cilantro vinaigrette dressing. Julianne had a black bean burger and I had their “1851 Burger” that included “bacon jam.” I also had them bring a side of the bacon jam because I wanted to just try that by itself and see how it tasted. It’s essentially a jam type of condiment that has been rendered with bacon and some sugar cane and some other things. It was sweet and bacony.

Story Inn Menu
Water is served in Mason Jars and old glass milk bottles
Inside the dining area of the Story Inn

The most unique things about the Story Inn is their motto which is “One Inconvenient location since 1851“.

The Story Inn even gives you a complimentary bumper sticker.
Side view of the Story Inn
The nice old wooden floors of the Story Inn dining area

The dining area is very rustic with wooden floors, old wooden tables and a few rickety old chairs. I actually had to use a chair from their outside deck because I was afraid to sit in one of their rickety chairs due to my size.

The entry area has some nice stained glass.  The shelves are decorated with period era bottles and medicines, etc.  The entry also includes a desk where lodgers can get registered and stay the evening if they wish…either in the upstairs hotel or in one of the out building cottages.  The place also serves as a Bed and Breakfast.

The Story Inn Dining Area
An alternate view of the Story Inn dining area
One of the old rustic chairs and a big wood burning stove to keep the place warm in winter
The place even has an old pay phone…not sure if it still works!
Story General Store
Old Compounds
Old Medications – Need some of that Pleasant Worm Syrup for sure! (photo by Marissa Noe)
Story Inn Check In sign

I did not go upstairs to see the rooms but Marissa and Julianne did and they said the rooms are nice but could be spooky.  We also heard some talk about spirits hanging around in the rooms. But, the only spirits I saw were down in the dining area where they have numerous fine wines and other spirits.

Overnight Guests
Entry to Hotel…includes a nice old mural
Up the Stairs to the Hotel Rooms (photo by Marissa Noe)
One of the Story Inn Hotel Rooms (photo by Marissa Noe)
An alternate view of the same room at the Story Inn (photo by Marissa Noe)
One of the Sitting Areas in the guest room at the Story Inn (photo by Marissa Noe)
Old fashioned couch in the guest room at the Story Inn (photo by Marissa Noe)
Sumoflam at the Story Inn in Story, IN

I did walk around the premises a bit and found a few unique things there as well. They have a sculpture made out of old car parts and gasoline stand parts including the gasoline pumps. There are restrooms on the outside that have some unique characteristics as well, including the signs that are shown below.

Gasoline Pump Art Sculpture in Story, IN
Sign outside restrooms at Story Inn
One of the signs in the Men’s Room at Story Inn (sorry…couldn’t resist!!)
Another sign outside the restrooms at the Story Inn
Old Gas Pump Price – I wish
Antique Checkerboard on the Story Inn front porch. Checkers are actually old pop bottle caps (photo by Marissa Noe)
They even have town maps!! Story, IN

 

(101)

The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, Texas

The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, TX

I occasionally write about unique eateries that I come across in my travels.  In the past I have written about Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, WV (see link), Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, OR (see link), Lambert’s Cafe – the Home of Throwed Rolls in Sykston, MO (see link), the Wigwam in Ravenna, KY (see link), Fat Smitty’s Burgers in Port Townsend, WA (see link) and dozens of other unique places.  Last week (Feb.  8, 2017) we were introduced to another fabulous place called The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, TX.  Much like Fat Smitty’s in Washington or Hillbilly Hot Dogs in West Virginia, this is a quirky themed eatery (or in this case, a resort…).

The Shack Burger Resort storefront – Texas style fun
Outdoor eating area at The Shack
The Shack
The Shack Road Sign
The Shack Playground

The place is huge and includes a giant playground for the kids, which includes two old school buses and more. Funky art and rustic decor  surround the resort.  Its setting in an almost rural area of Houston makes it even more fun.

The Shack Bus – one of two
Dino accompanies granddaughter in play area at the shack
Awesome burgers at The Shack – this one is the Dang Dang with their Dang Dang Sauce

Of course, decor and quirkiness are a great draw, but if the food is so so, one may not want to return.  Not the case at The Shack.  Their burgers are huge, flavorful and there is a great variety to choose from.  For those that like to imbibe, there is also a full bar.  And their Fried Pickle Chips are to die for!

The Shack Menu
Restrooms this way

As I noted above, the place is quirky.  For instance, the Men’s Restroom is totally quirky/rustic.  A really nice touch…

The Men’s Room had wooden Saloon Doors for the stalls and an old rustic sink for washing hands.  There was art on the doors and on the walls.  No themes….just quirky all the way!!

Men’s Stall Door in restroom
The Rustic Sink in the Men’s Room
Restroom Wall Decor in Men’s Room at The Shack
The other stall door in the Men’s Room
A nice 70s style mural painted on the wall outside the restrooms

Everywhere you look there was fun art and unique kitsch.  Here are a few more shots of this fun place.  Definitely worth a visit if in the Houston area.

A painted trailer in the front yard of the lot
Grandkid fun in an old bathtub and by an old truck
A portion of a wall mural on the indoor dining section of The Shack
One of many offbeat random paintings to be found on wood, fences, beams and doors at the Shack
A nice place for R & R at front of The Shack
Have a seat
Wall Art at The Shack
Painted Fences and Pink Flamingos
A bottle cap adorned arm rest on one of the couches
Selfie Fun at the Shack
Cowboy Stop Sign at the Shack
More outdoor seating
The Shack

 

(14)