Imagine my excitement as I woke up this morning to see the PAPERBACK edition of my brand new Book 3, titled Beyond Description – More of the Strange and Unique, had cleared review and is now available for purchase on Amazon! Like Book 2, it is 120 pages full of color photos and interesting stories. This one looks at unique and fun destinations like Carhenge (NE), Paradise Point Marketplace (KY), Bowlin’s The Thing (AZ), Uranus ,Fudge Factory and General Store (MO), Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland Museum (KY), Wall Drug (SD), Lost River Trading Post (WV), Henrys Ra66it Ranch (IL) (and more) and then some themed towns like Vulcan, AB; Hell, MI; Mt. Horeb, WI; Santa Claus, IN, Winslow, AZ and Roswell, NM. Finally, there is a chapter on the Trail of the Whispering Giants and artist Peter Wolf Toth.
You can order the book beginning NOW and probably have it by Wednesday. I appreciate all of the past support and hope that you will continue to Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride! Here’s where you can get it. (And please don’t forget to do a review!)
On August 20 I had a wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of hours on the phone with American artist Peter Wolf Toth who took time to speak with me from his Florida Studio.
I had contacted Peter to get more details about this interesting man with the intent on adding a chapter about him and his Trail of the Whispering Giantsinto my new book, which will be available in August 2019. (Actually, the Kindle version is now available…see the link at the end of this post)
If you are not familiar with the Trail of the Whispering Giants, it is a cross country collection of huge wooden sculptures created by Toth. Each is a tribute to the indigenous peoples of North America and each was done by Peter as a donation to the communities he created them in. His goal was to carve at least one in every state in the United States, which he finally accomplished in 1988 with his large sculpture in Hawaii. Altogether, Peter has done 74 of these intricate statues.
When I spoke with Peter, he explained that he was born in Hungary, but came to the United States at a young age, landing in Akron with his family. As he grew older, he grew interested in Native American culture and sought for ways to honor the indigenous people of this land. He became a self-taught sculptor, using a hammer and chisel to work with stone. He told me that his first sculpture was in stone in La Jolla, California. He wanted to do another in stone near his home in Akron but, as he explained to me,
“It was in a remote location and really not visible to many. I wanted to make these to honor the Native Americans, so I felt that making them from local trees in all of the states would honor them best.”
Unlike many artists that work with wood, Peter chooses to utilize a hammer and chisel to create these giants, which range in height from 12 feet to well over 40 feet. He has no issue with those that so their work with chainsaws, but he likes doing his statues his way.
Peter takes great care and makes great efforts to create these donated works of art to honor the Native Americans, who he feels “were victims of long abuse” and also wants to make sure that all victims of abuse and hardship are honored.
In 1980 Peter published a book on Tribal Press titled Indian Giver: Gifts Of Statues For All 50 States To Honor The Indian and tells the story of the artist’s gifts to each of the 50 states to honor the Indian monuments now erected in the united States-the Trail of the Whispering Giants. The book is illustrated with both color and black and white photos of each sculpture. Peter commented about this book.
“It was a custom among the many Indian tribes that when a man was presented with a gift, he in return gave back as a gift, an object of comparable value. This was an act of honor and respect. The white man distorted this philosophy and degraded it into a selfish act-a person who gives but expects to take back something in return. Hence, the term “Indian Giver” came into our language. If that is the case, then I too am an Indian Giver because I want something in return for these monumental gifts I am sculpturing. In return, I ask that honor and understanding be shown toward the Native Americans because of the tragic fate that has befallen these noble people.”
This book is available on Amazon for those interested in seeing the artist’s perspective on his work.
I am grateful to have become acquainted with Peter Wolf Toth. I have admired his works, even though I have only been to 13 of them so far. I will make it to more and hope to get down to his Florida studio sometime in the near future to see his work and enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean with him while we talk of the wonders of the world.
Like what you see? Well, there is lots more! I now have three books available about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see all of them at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Book 3 was published and available on August 24, 2019.
Obviously, one of my favorite things to do on road trips short or long is locate the fun, unique and offbeat roadside attractions. And, fortunately, 2018 provided me a plethora of these. I have already written about a few of them individually in past months, but this post will be a nice little “photo tour” of some of my favorites.
Having been through 26 different states in 2018, I had plenty of sites and loads of fun. I got to share many of these with grandchildren, which made it even better.
Perhaps my favorite from 2018 was the amazing giant Dignity: Of Earth and Sky statue in Chamberlain, South Dakota. This giant 50 foot tall steel statue honors the women of the Lakota and Dakota tribes. It was created by artist South Dakota Dale Lamphere. It sits in a rest area overlooking the Missouri River and can be seen from quite a distance.
The statue also features a Star Quilt that has more than 100 blue diamond shapes that move in the wind. Really a wonderful site and it is also one of America’s tallest statues (the 20th tallest according to Wikipedia listing).
Another giant is just down the road from Dignity. Wall Drug’s giant brontosaurus stretches 80 feet and sits 37 feet tall as it overlooks Interstate 90 at the Wall Exit. Even there is no time for a visit to Wall Drug, there is always time to stop for a photo-op with a giant friendly dino!
Dinosaurs seem to be all over the country and on my four big trips in 2018 I came across a few more of them. Always fun!
Dinosaurs are not the only giants that I came across on the road in 2018. One of my favorite “giants” was “Ms. Pearl” the giant squirrel in Cedar Creek, Texas at the Berdoll Pecan Candy factory. Created in 2011, it stands 14 feet tall and currently lays claim to be the tallest squirrel statue in the world. Like many “roadside” attractions, this one is very visible off of TX Hwy 71.
Nice thing about Berdoll’s is that you can get your picture with Ms. Pearl and even get some Pecan goodies from their 24/7 Pecan Vending Machine.
Other big things I came across in 2018
Then there are the big Muffler Men and Big John statues. There are dozens and dozens of these dotting the landscape. I came across a couple of fun ones in 2018. In Helper, Utah there is one that is painted totally black…to represent the Coal Miners.
These guys are about 15 feet tall and basically all look alike except for the additional things added to them by the local sites. Over the years I personally have photographed nearly 40 different versions of Big John, Muffler Men or Uniroyal Gals.
You can find them looking like Paul Bunyan, cowboys, Indians and other fun things.
I always like coming across these unique pieces of funky Americana.
I am working on Part 2 of this travel report with more big and unique things to see. Watch for it soon.