Carhenge: One of America’s Premier “Car Art” Sites

DSC_7745In late May of this year I finally had an opportunity to hit one of my “Bucket List” sites – Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. This “Car Art” site (see my post on Car Art from last August) ranks up there with the other well known sites, Cadillac Ranch, in Amarillo, Texas and the former “Spindle” (Cars on a Spike) by Dustin Shuler that was displayed at Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until May 2008.

Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE
Sumoflam at Carhenge in Alliance, NE in May 2014
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas in August 2013
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas in August 2013
Sumoflam at Spindle in May 2007  (subsequently torn down in May 2008)
Sumoflam at Spindle in Berwyn, IL in May 2007 (subsequently torn down in May 2008)

Unlike Cadillac Ranch, which is set up on a farm in Amarillo, Carhenge is actually owned by the city of Alliance, Nebraska and is touted as one of their main tourist attractions.

Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE
Glowing sun on Carhenge, in Alliance, NE

My trip to Carhenge was on the the next to last leg of my return trip home from Montana (see the full day’s post HERE). I pushed hard to get here from Cody, Wyoming via Douglas (the Jackalope Capital of the World) and then finished the day off with a two hour drive along Nebraska Route 2 over the Sandhills to get to Grand Island for the night.

Welcome to Carhenge
Welcome to Carhenge
This way to Carhenge
This way to Carhenge

This unique piece of Car Art is the brainchild of Jim Reinders who completed the work in time to dedicate it on the June 1987 Summer Solstice. Reinders conceived it in 1987 to be a memorial to his father. While living in England, he studied the structure of Stonehenge, which helped him to copy the structure’s shape, proportions, and size.

Jim Reinders, creator of Carhenge, signs canvas prints (borrowed from Friends of Carhenge Facebook Page)
Jim Reinders, creator of Carhenge, signs canvas prints (borrowed from Friends of Carhenge Facebook Page)

There are other automobile sculptures that have been added to the the area around Carhenge and the additional name of Car Art Reserve was added for these.

Panorama View of Carhenge
Panorama View of Carhenge

Carhenge consists of 38 automobiles arranged in a circle measuring about 95 ft in diameter. Some are held upright in pits trunk end down, and arches have been formed by welding automobiles atop the supporting models. The heelstone is a 1962 Cadillac. Three cars were buried at Carhenge. Their “gravestone” is a car that reads: “Here lie three bones of foreign cars. They served our purpose while Detroit slept. Now Detroit is awake and America’s great!”

Old Cadillac at Carhenge
Old Cadillac at Carhenge

After the long drive from Cody, I arrived at Carhenge around 6 PM CST as the sun made its way down.  There were many nice shadows cast.  I dropped in to the small Visitor’s Center and saw that they needed a license plate donation (chuckle)…I pulled out one of my old MARDUP license plates, signed the back and donated it to Alliance employee Beau at the Carhenge Gift Shop.

Carhenge Gift Shop
Carhenge Gift Shop
Donating MARDUP License Plate to Beau Neville at Carhenge
Donating MARDUP License Plate to Carhenge Gift Shop staffer Beau

I also had fun trying out a new app while at Carhenge…my 360 Panorama App…here is what I got….

[panoembed pano=”Bt68hU” width=”600″ height=”300″]

Makes you feel like you’re there doesn’t it?

As I noted above, the actual Stonehenge like circle has 38 cars.  I tried to capture a few of them in some of the photos below:

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Wide view of Carhenge
Wide view of Carhenge
You are Loved at Carhenge
You are Loved at Carhenge

Ironically, cars are not the only feature at Carhenge.  There are a couple of cool sculptures made from car parts.  Of course, my readers know I love scrap metal art.

Spawning Salmon
Spawning Salmon by Canadian artist Geoff Sandhurst.

One of the first sculptures to be added to the Car Art Reserve is a sculpture of a spawning salmon created by 29 year-old Canadian Geoff Sandhurst.

Spawning Salmon with Carhenge in background
Spawning Salmon with Carhenge in background
Sumoflam and Salmon
Sumoflam and Salmon

Then there is a fifteen foot metal dinosaur that overlooks Carhenge

A 15 foot dinosaur overlooks Carhenge
A 15 foot dinosaur overlooks Carhenge
Dinosaur Head with sharp teeth
Dinosaur Head with sharp teeth
In the belly of the beast!
In the belly of the beast!

Reinders created a second set as part of the Car Reserve called “Ford Seasons.” It is comprised only of Fords and was inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Season. It was meant to suggest the Nebraska landscape’s seasonal changes as wheat is planted, grows, is harvested, and then the field lies barren during a windy winter.

Ford Seasons - part of the Car Art Reserve
Ford Seasons – part of the Car Art Reserve

And finally, a few more scenes from Carhenge as the sun went down and I had to be on my way….

Sun shines through like a star in Carhenge
Sun shines through like a star in Carhenge
Carhenge as seen from the Gift Shop. The colorful bench is also made from car parts
Carhenge as seen from the Gift Shop. The colorful bench is also made from car parts
Buried Car at Carhenge
Buried Car at Carhenge
Buried cars at Carhenge
Buried cars at Carhenge

In closing….visit Alliance and Carhenge if you make it to western Nebraska.  Well worth the visit!!

(1979)

Creating the Wanderlust – 30 Years of Family Travel – Pt 3

Joselyn on the Beach - Hilton Head Island, South Carolina summer 2013
Joselyn on the Beach – Hilton Head Island, South Carolina summer 2013

This is the last in my 3 part series on “Creating the Wanderlust” through family travel adventures. (see the other two Part 1  Part 2 )

Autumn in Rhinelander, WI Aug 2012
Autumn in Rhinelander, WI  with the Hodag – Aug 2012

After three weddings in 2005 I was fried…and, to top things off I had knee surgery later in the year, so there was no travel the rest of that year.  In fact, I didn’t take any trips until 2007 when I had a couple of big ones.  These were with Solomon as Seth was off serving a Mormon mission in Utah.  Then, since that time many of the trips from 2008 thru 2013 have included grandchildren in one way or another.  It is wonderful to share these precious moments with my grandchildren as well as my now adult children….

Solomon in Toad Suck, Arkansas June 2007
Solomon in Toad Suck, Arkansas June 2007

In June 2007 my sister in Texas had an old car she wanted to give to my son Solomon as a reward for his obtaining an Eagle Scout (which my son Seth also completed).  So, we took a ride down to Keller to pick up the car and then the two of us drove back to Lexington.  Both ways we found fun on the backroads of America with the following route:


View Larger Map – Kentucky to Texas and Back

This would be a quick trip down and back, but we were determined to have a fun time.  We made our way to Memphis and into Arkansas and continued the drive all the way to Keller, about 1100 miles one way via the route we took.  Along the way we saw a few fun things…

Solomon at the Memphis Egg at the Memphis Visitor's Center, June 2007
Solomon at the Memphis Egg at the Memphis Visitor’s Center, June 2007
Solomon in two states - Texas and Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas June 2007
Solomon in two states – Texas and Arkansas, Texarkana, Texas June 2007

After an evening in Keller we joined my sister and her family for a day trip to Dublin, Granbury and Forth Worth for fun.

Solomon in Dublin, Texas home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007
Solomon in Dublin, Texas home of the Dr. Pepper Plant in June 2007

After our trips we then headed back home via Paris, Texas and then through Arkansas, Missouri and home.

Eiffel Tower with a Cowboy Hat in Paris, Texas - June 2007
Eiffel Tower with a Cowboy Hat in Paris, Texas – June 2007
Solomon with Popeye in Alma, Arkansas - home of Popeye brand Spinach June 2007
Solomon with Popeye in Alma, Arkansas – home of Popeye brand Spinach June 2007

The Texas trip was a fun short trip, but later in the year we took a second trip together.  This would be perhaps the biggest trip I had ever taken and it was going to be a fun with Solomon, who was 18 at the time. My daughter Amaree had her second child, my grandson Charlie.  As well, my good friend and musician Antsy McClain had shows in southeastern Washington state and I was heading out there to manage those as well.  Overall, the trip would take Solomon and me over about 6000 miles through fourteen states and three Canadian provinces and dozens of sites. We used almost 500 gallons of gasoline and I took over 2000 photos during the trip. (See entire trip post here)

Our Route to Washington and Back - September 2007
Our 6000 mile route to Washington and back – September 2007

The main purpose of this trip was to get to Montana to see my new grandson, but it was also a great opportunity to travel with my youngest son and truly Enjoy the Ride.  We started off early for the Chicago area with the first goal to see the famed “Spindle” sculpture by Dustin Shuler, better known as Cars on a Spike.  This was at the retro Cermak Shopping Plaza in Berwyn, IL.  It is a good thing we visited and got it captured on both photo and video.  In May 2008 it was demolished so a new drug store could go in.

Solomon and "Spindle" by Dustin Shuler, originally at Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, IL. Taken Sept 2007.
Solomon and “Spindle” by Dustin Shuler, originally at Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, IL. Taken Sept 2007

From Chicago we headed north into Wisconsin and then on to Minnesota.  We found lots of quirky offbeat things along the way!!

Solomon with a Big Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI Sept 2007
Solomon with a Big Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI Sept 2007
Solomon hanging with James Frank Kotera "JFK" the Twine Ball Man in Lake Nebagamon, WI.  Largest Twine Ball in the World. Sept 2007
Solomon hanging with James Frank Kotera “JFK” the Twine Ball Man in Lake Nebagamon, WI. Largest Twine Ball in the World. Sept 2007
Solomon has picked one of his favorite giant wooden trolls in Mt. Horeb, WI.  There are over 30 in town. Sept 2007
Solomon, an “American Picker”, has picked one of his favorite giant wooden trolls in Mt. Horeb, WI. There are over 30 in town. Sept 2007
Solomon at the Lake Superior Overlook near Duluth, MN
Solomon at the Lake Superior Overlook near Duluth, MN
Near Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota, Solomon found a deer to feed
Near Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota, Solomon found a deer to feed
Solomon riding the Big Fish at Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota - Sept. 2007
Solomon riding the Big Fish at Lake Kabetogama in Minnesota – Sept. 2007

Speaking of BIG FISH – we found the world’s largest Walleye in Baudette, MN

Solomon is dwarfed by the World's Largest Walleye in Baudette, MN Sept 2007
Solomon is dwarfed by the World’s Largest Walleye in Baudette, MN Sept 2007

From Minnesota we ventured into Canada and dove along the Trans-Canada Highway westward towards Alberta.  It continued to be a fun adventure for both of us….

Solomon at the Saskatchewan Provincial Border Sept 2007
Solomon at the Saskatchewan Provincial Border Sept 2007
Solomon at Indiana Head, Saskatchewan Sept 2007
Solomon at Indiana Head, Saskatchewan Sept 2007
Solomon visits with the World's Largest Moose Statue in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Sept 2007
Solomon visits with the World’s Largest Moose Statue in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan Sept 2007

I had friends in Alberta and we got to spend a night with Crafty Jack, a guitar maker and joint friend with Antsy McClain.  We got to look at his custom-made trailer shaped guitars…

Solomon with the Trailercana Guitar hand-crafted by Crafty Jack
Solomon with the Trailercana Guitar hand-crafted by Crafty Jack

We also spent some time with Crafty Jack visiting some of the more “unique” sites in Alberta…venturing to go where no man has gone before…

Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
Solomon and Sumoflam become part of the Star Trek gang in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
A StarStruck "Starship Sol" with some new pals in Vulcan, Alberta Sept. 2007
A StarStruck “Starship Sol” with some new pals in Vulcan, Alberta Sept. 2007
Sol and Sumoflam live long and prosper with the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007
Sol and Sumoflam live long and prosper with the Starship Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta Sept 2007

We proceeded to make our way down to Great Falls to see my daughter Amaree and her family, including the newest grandchild Charlie.  During our visit we made our way into the mountains southeast of Great Falls to Kings Hill Pass.  We got a nice family photo high up in the mountains…

The family at Kings Hill Pass near Meagher, MT - Amaree, Charlie, Sumoflam, Kade, Julianne and Solomon - Sept 2007
The family at Kings Hill Pass near Meagher, MT – Amaree, Charlie, Sumoflam, Kade, Julianne and Solomon – Sept 2007

We also made our way north on US 89 to a nice waterfalls called Memorial Falls.  Solomon climbed way up on a cliff…

Climbing up to the top of Memorial Falls in Montana - Julianne, Aaron (son in law), Kade and Solomon - Sept 2007
Climbing up to the top of Memorial Falls in Montana – Julianne, Aaron (son in law), Kade and Solomon – Sept 2007
Solomon up high on a cliff near Memorial Falls in Montana, Sept 2007
Solomon up high on a cliff near Memorial Falls in Montana, Sept 2007

During the time in Great Falls we also visited museums and other fun places with Amaree, Aaron, their two boys and Julianne (who flew out).  But soon Solomon were continuing west to Idaho and Washington.  Along the way we stopped in Couer D’Alene to visit with legendary rock music radio pioneer John Rook.  John was a close family friend of rock guitarist Bobby Cochran (Steppenwolf, Flying Burrito Brothers, Trailer Park Troubadours, Bobby and the Midnites), who was also the nephew of the famous Eddie Cochran (The Summertime Blues and C’mon Everybody).  Bobby is a close friend of mine as well. John Rook was practically family with Eddie.  So, on the encouragement of Bobby we stopped by to say hello to John, see much of his rock and roll memorabilia, including photos with the Rolling Stones and Beatles (see article about his work with the Beatles), groups that he had a major influence in bringing to the U.S. in the 1960s while the Program Director at KQV in Pittsburgh.  It should be noted that Rush Limbaugh and David Letterman count John Rook as a mentor in their careers.

Solomon with Rock and Roll Radio icon John Rook at his home in Couer D'Alene, ID in Sept 2007
Solomon with Rock and Roll Radio icon John Rook at his home in Couer D’Alene, ID in Sept 2007

This was a fun and interesting experience for rock afficianados like Solomon and me.  We ventured further westward to Washington to carry out my work for Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours, which included some road management and logistics management.  After four days of performances in the Tri-Cities and Dayton, Solomon and I headed south into Oregon and a visit to the amazing Hell’s Canyon.

Solomon at the overlook of Hell's Canyon in Oregon - Sept. 2007
Solomon at the overlook of Hell’s Canyon in Oregon – Sept. 2007

From there we went south to Salt Lake City to drop in on my son Seth who was serving a Mormon mission there (yes, there are even Mormon missionaries called to Salt Lake City!!).  It was a great chance for us to visit and have a quick lunch with “Elder Kravetz.”

Visiting "Elder Kravetz" in Sandy, Utah in Sept 2007
Visiting “Elder Kravetz” in Sandy, Utah in Sept 2007

We then finally made our way home through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and finally into Kentucky.  More unique stops were made along the way…

Solomon with a giant jackalope in Douglas, Wyoming, the "Jackalope Capital of the World" - Sept 2007
Solomon with a giant jackalope in Douglas, Wyoming, the “Jackalope Capital of the World” – Sept 2007
Solomon and his new friend at Ole's Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, NE - Sept 2007
Solomon and his new friend at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, NE – Sept 2007

After a long trip, we finally made it home.  This was to be the last of my trips with just my children.  All trips with family (other than with my wife), typically included grandchildren and I even had a few opportunities to be with the grandchildren on solo Grampz/Grandkidz trips.  I now had (and continue to have) the blessing of Creating the Wanderlust in the next generation of my posterity.

The family visits Jakeman's a working Maple Syrup facility near Woodstock, Ontario - July 2008
The family visits Jakeman’s a working Maple Syrup facility near Woodstock, Ontario – July 2008
Adam, Marissa and Joselyn at Lake Victoria in Stratford, Ontario July 2008
Adam, Marissa and Joselyn at Lake Victoria in Stratford, Ontario July 2008

Following are a few shots of my grandchildren as they accompanied me and, in most cases, their parents, on road trips over the last six years…places and dates included…

Autumn - Green Bay Packers in Pink - at Lambeau Stadium in Green Bay, WI Aug. 2012
Autumn – Green Bay Packers in Pink – at Lambeau Stadium in Green Bay, WI Aug. 2012

In August 2012 I joined my daughter Chelsea and my oldest grandchild Autumn on a quick three day trip to Wisconsin.  We planned out the trip for a number of fun adventures in Illinois and Wisconsin. (see my Trip Journal posts beginning here)

Spicing it up at the National Mustard Museum - Middleton, WI
Spicing it up at the National Mustard Museum – Middleton, WI
Chelsea and Autumn follow the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchards in Champagne, IL - Aug 2012
Chelsea and Autumn follow the Yellow Brick Road at Curtis Orchards in Champaigne, IL – Aug 2012
Autumn tackles the “Beast” – a scrap metal sculpture by the late Wally Keller located in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Autumn and "Grampz" with the Hodag of Rhinelander, WI
Autumn and “Grampz” with the Hodag of Rhinelander, WI
Chelsea and Autumn know they love Kraft Macaroni at the Kraft plant in Champaign, IL
Chelsea and Autumn know they love Kraft Macaroni at the Kraft plant in Champaign, IL

On that trip we also visited the famed Jurustic Park, a chainsaw totem pole forest, the birthplace of the hamburger, Egg Harbor and the peninsula, and more.  See more here.

Autumn and Savannah (my niece) at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY in Aug. 2009
Autumn and Savannah (my niece) at the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY in Aug. 2009
Autumn and Savannah with my sister Sherry and her husband Brian - Aug. 2009
Autumn and Savannah with my sister Sherry and her husband Brian – Aug. 2009

We have also taken Autumn to the Cincinnati Zoo, on a riverboat ride down the Kentucky River and to the Louisville Children’s Museum.

Grandson Kade at the Louisville Children's Museum - Dec. 2012
Grandson Kade at the Louisville Children’s Museum – Dec. 2012

I have four grandchildren living in Shelby, Montana and have not had as many opportunities to travel much with them.  However, their parents (my daughter Amaree and her husband Aaron) have taken my liking to travel and have introduce the wanderlust to their children through visits to California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Nevada, Idaho and even across the country on visits to Kentucky to see us.  I have visited Shelby on three occasions and each time take the kids collectively or individually on small road trips.  Here are a few scenes…

Kade and Charlie, with their Dad Aaron at Leaning Tree Cafe in Babb, MT at the base of Glacier National Park – March 2013
Kade, Charlie and cousin Autumn in the vacuum at Louisville Children's Museum - Dec. 2012
Kade, Charlie and cousin Autumn in the vacuum at Louisville Children’s Museum – Dec. 2012
Charlie at the giant wind farm near Shelby, Montana - Feb. 2012
Charlie at the giant wind farm near Shelby, Montana – Feb. 2012
Olivia at Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville, KY - Dec. 2012
Olivia at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, KY – Dec. 2012
My youngest grandchild Benson with his Dad Aaron at Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Dec 2012
My youngest grandchild Benson with his Dad Aaron at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, Dec 2012
Grandson Charlie is dwarfed by the giant penguin in Cut Bank, Montana
Grandson Charlie is dwarfed by the giant penguin in Cut Bank, Montana
Charlie at Jerusalem Rocks in Northern Montana
Charlie at Jerusalem Rocks in Northern Montana

My little granddaughter Joselyn is really quite the traveler and, even at age 6 she is always up for another long drive adventure, especially with Grampz, who she thinks is “funny.” This little girl has probably traveled more in this United States than most kids do by the time they are 18.  Jos has been to Niagara Falls in Canada, Tucson, Omaha, Hilton Head and a gazillion places in between.  Her little brother Landen has accompanied on a couple of trips as well.  Here are a few shots from the last couple of years, including some recent ones.

Little Joselyn hanging with Uncle Solomon at San Xavier del Bac Church in Tucson, Arizona - April 2011
Little Joselyn hanging with Uncle Solomon at San Xavier del Bac Church in Tucson, Arizona – April 2011
Joselyn with her mother at White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico, April 2011
Joselyn with her mother at White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico, April 2011
Joselyn with her cousin Autumn and Second Cousin Savannah at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2010
Joselyn with her cousin Autumn and Second Cousin Savannah at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2010
Joselyn and sister Lyla with Grandma Julianne on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean on Hilton Head Island, April 2013
Joselyn and sister Lyla with Grandma Julianne on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean on Hilton Head Island, April 2013
Joselyn runs on a sand dune at White Sands National Monument in NM
Joselyn runs on a sand dune at White Sands National Monument in NM
Running through the cement corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio July 2011
Running through the cement corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio July 2011
Joselyn makes a visit to Earth (TX) in April 2011
Joselyn makes a visit to Earth (TX) in April 2011
Jos with Grampz at rest area n North Carolina - April 2013
Jos with Grampz at rest area n North Carolina – April 2013
Cussling with an alien in Roswell, New Mexico - April 2011
Cussling with an alien in Roswell, New Mexico – April 2011
Jos and her mother Marissa at Stone Mountain in Georgia, April 2013
Jos and her mother Marissa at Stone Mountain in Georgia, April 2013
Joselyn at Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 2013
Joselyn at Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Sept. 2013
Holding a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis
Holding a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis
Joselyn and Landen at Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers TV Show in LeClaire, IA - Sept. 2013
Joselyn and Landen at Antique Archaeology, home of American Pickers TV Show in LeClaire, IA – Sept. 2013
Jos and Landen at Gothic House in Eldon, IA - Sept 2013
Jos and Landen at Gothic House in Eldon, IA – Sept 2013
Joselyn as a baby at Niagara Falls with her parents in July 2008
Joselyn as a baby at Niagara Falls with her parents in July 2008

Of course, Landen is not totally exempt from all of this either…he is catching the bug!!

Landen with the Transformer "Bumblebee" at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis (told you he "caught the bug") - Sept 2013
Landen with the Transformer “Bumblebee” at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis (told you he “caught the bug”) – Sept 2013
Landen with a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis (caught the bug again!!)
Landen with a butterfly at the Butterfly House near St. Louis (caught the bug again!!)
Landen goes Dutch in Pella, Iowa - Sept. 2013
Landen goes Dutch in Pella, Iowa – Sept. 2013
Landen with the corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio, July 2011
Landen with the corn cobs in Dublin, Ohio, July 2011
Landen the beach bum at Cave Run Lake, KY in June 2013
Landen the beach bum at Cave Run Lake, KY in June 2013
Landen and Joselyn visit their Great Aunt Nicole in Cleveland, OH July 2011
Landen and Joselyn visit their Great Aunt Nicole in Cleveland, OH July 2011

Jos and Landen have a little sister Lyla who has also turned out to be a good traveler having gone to South Carolina and Georgia on one trip and then on a trip to Nebraska in September.

Lyla follows in the footsteps of her cousin Autumn by following the Yellow Brick Road Champaign, IL
Lyla follows in the footsteps of her cousin Autumn by following the Yellow Brick Road Champaign, IL
Lyla rides the old 1930s St. Louis Carousel in Sept. 2013
Lyla rides the old 1930s St. Louis Carousel in Sept. 2013
Sumoflam teaches granddaughter Lyla how to drive the backroads of America at an early age
Sumoflam teaches granddaughter Lyla how to drive the backroads of America at an early age

Only one grandchild has not really traveled much with us though he has traveled with his father Seth and his mother Holly.  That is little Rockwell, our blonde cutie….

Grampz and RockE
Grampz and RockE
Rockwell in West Chester, OH - 2012
Rockwell in West Chester, OH – 2012

Of course, as time goes on I will continue to Enjoy the Ride on trips on the backroads and will do it, not just as a good father, but also as a helluva grandfather!!

Sumoflam - Enjoy the Ride
Sumoflam – Enjoy the Ride
Sumoflam - An Okay Parent
Sumoflam – An Okay Parent
Sumoflam - Helluva Grandparent
Sumoflam – Helluva Grandparent

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Car Art: Cars in art around the US




DSC_9365One of the more unique American traditions along the Less Beaten Paths is the recycling of auto parts for art. Indeed, a couple of the most famous roadside attractions in the US are made from cars. This post will look at a few pieces of “car art” that I have seen over the years and, then, at the end, I will note a few others that are out there and worth a visit from all of us — some that I hope to get to over the next couple of years.

"Spindle" by Dustin Shuler was in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until it was removed in May 2008
“Spindle” by Dustin Shuler was in Cermak Plaza in Berwyn, Illinois until it was removed in May 2008

Probably one of the two most famous Car Art pieces that I am aware of, this car shish-kabob called “Spindle” and created by artist Dustin Shuler (1948-2010), became ultra famous after being featured in Wayne’s World. It has also been featured in on the cover of a book (called Oddball Illinois: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places), on postcards, state tourist brochures, and maps. It was originally commissioned by the shopping center owner, David Bermant, who donated his BMW car to be placed second from the top of the sculpture.Shuler himself owned the red 1967 VW Beetle that crowned the sculpture.The foundation of the sculpture reached nearly 30 feet into the ground; the cost of erecting it was over $75,000.

Sumoflam and Spindle in September 2007
Sumoflam and Spindle in September 2007

The cars on a spike never did res well with some of the citizens of Berwyn, Illinois, and thus in 1990 they voted overwhelmingly for it to be removed. Nevertheless, the Mayor argued that it drew tourism to town and had become an icon. The owner of Cermak’s Shopping Center argued the same. But, alas, in July 2007, it was announced that the shopping center was to be redeveloped and that the site of the sculpture was earmarked for a new Walgreens store. New controversy ensued and finally, in May of 2008 the structure was taken down.

The impaled cars on the spindle, from top to bottom, were:

  1. 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, red
  2. 1976 BMW New Class, silver License Plate reads “DAVE”
  3. 1981 Ford Escort, blue
  4. 1974 or 1973 Mercury Capri, green
  5. 1978 Ford Mustang, white over blue
  6. 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix, maroon or burgundy
  7. 1980 or 1979 Ford LTD, light yellow
  8. 1981 or 1979 Mercury Grand Marquis, black
Spindle as seen from the shopping center.
Spindle as seen from the shopping center.

When I was at Cermak’s in 2007 I actually made a video of Spindle along with some of the other art at Cermak’s. Here it is….

Perhaps just as famous is the “Cadillac Ranch” near Amarillo, Texas. Like the “Spindle“, this site has had controversy and has been featured in movies, advertisements, comics, etc. It is most certainly one of the most well known Roadside Attractions in the U.S.

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

It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, supposedly at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
Sumoflam at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

The cars have gone through numerous iterations…completely black, completely white, stc., when used for ads and commercials. But, soon thereafter, the tourists with the spray paint cans make their way to make their marks on the cars. So, this ends up being a “stationary attraction” always in a state of change.

Bottom of Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo
Underside of Cadillac at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo

Due to the popularity of Cadillac Ranch, there have been a few imitators, none of which I have been to yet, but hope to get to sometime in the near future. These include:

VW Slug Bug Ranch – Conway, Texas

Slug Bug Ranch - this photo comes from wondersofbackroads.wordpress.com
Slug Bug Ranch – this photo comes from wondersofbackroads.wordpress.com

The Slug Bug Ranch consists of five VW Beetles buried nose first in the ground. There is also an older 1930s car on the site. As with Cadillac Ranch, people have left their mark in spray paint.

 

 

 

Combine City – Canyon, Texas

Combine Ranch
Combine Ranch – photo borrowed from Lovin Our Life Blog

This place even has their own website (see combinecity.com). According to their site, “Combine City began with one Combine Harvester planted in the ground. Over time, that solitary Combine has welcomed 13 more. In total, 14 Combines are planted, standing as a tribute to the great nature of the West Texas farmer.” Unlike Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, Combine City does not allow folks to come in and spray paint.

 

Airstream Ranch – Dover, Florida

Airstream Ranch - located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida
Airstream Ranch – located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida

Indeed, this is not cars…it is Airstreams, but these are a great addition to this collection. These are located at Bates RV in Dover, Florida and have been the subject for many photos in the past. My good friend, the musician Antsy McClain has actually done a photo shoot here for some Trailer Park Troubadours stuff (see below).

 

Antsy McClain - Airstream Ranch
Antsy McClain – Airstream Ranch

Like Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, the Airstream Ranch has not been without controversy. Neighbors have argued that it was unsightly, but, ultimately, the Tourist Attraction and Art Factors won out.

Like the other sites, this attracts tourists from all over and has been used in advertisements, etc.

The historic value of Airstreams in travel always leads to an interest in these aluminum domiciles on wheels. There are rallies all over the country and one can always see them on the road. Indeed, many are happy to be “Living in Aluminum” and following the Aluminum Rule – “Thou Shalt Enjoy the Ride”

 

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – Staunton, Illinois

Henry's Rabbit Ranch - Staunton, Illinois
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch – Staunton, Illinois

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch is one of those iconic Route 66 stops on the back roads of America. Located just west of Interstate 55 in southern Illinois (and a short drive north of St. Louis), it lies along the old Route 66. Along with tons of Route 66 memorabilia, they have a set of buried cars.

 

Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska

Carhenge - May 2014
Carhenge – May 2014

As with the others above, there are buried cars, but, in this case the creators of Carhenge tried to emulate the famed Stonehenge of England. They too have their own website, including a history of the Jim Reinders creation. This 1987 piece of Car Art has 38 automobiles and there are other pieces of Car Art on “Car Art Reserve”. Like the locations above, Carhenge has been the subject of numerous commercials and film productions.

All of the locations above are big tourist attractions for the back roads adventurer seeking the offbeat and quirky. But, there are many other smaller pieces of car art and/or “car displays” around the country, many of which I have had the opportunity to see. Here are a few.

Flattened Car - Cermaks Plaza, Berwyn, Illinois
Pinto Pelt – Cermaks Plaza, Berwyn, Illinois

The flattened car (called “Pinto Pelt“) is another creation by Spindle artist Dustin Shuler and is also located in Cermak’s Plaza. This too went the way of the world apparently in the reconstruction project in Berwyn’s once famous shopping center.

Art Car Museum - Houston, Texas
Art Car Museum – Houston, Texas

The Art Car Museum in Houston, Texas is dedicated to true Art Cars, those cars that have had art added to them. According to the “Art Car Manifesto“, “an art car is a motor-driven vehicle which a car artist alters in such a way as to suit his own aesthetic. In other words, the artist either adds or subtracts materials of his own choosing to or from the factory model or he may renovate an earlier model to revive a beauty and style that once was. The result is a vehicle which conveys new meaning through design, mechanical or structural changes, renovation, and/or the addition of new images, symbols or collage elements.”

Art Car Museum
Art Car Museum – Houston, Texas

The Art Car Museum website has a great Photo Gallery of some of the more unique cars featured at the museum. When I visited in 2010 the museum was not open so I didn’t get a chance to get any good car shots. But, along the way I have found a couple on my own…

Art Car at Third Street Stuff - Lexington, Kentucky
Art Car at Third Street Stuff – Lexington, Kentucky
Close up of Art Car at Third Street Stuff
Close up of Art Car at Third Street Stuff
Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Close up of spider on Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Close up of spider on Art Car at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington

Some of the more unique pieces utilizing cars as art that I have come across in my travels:

The Smoke Sax - Houston, Texas
The Smoke Sax – Houston, Texas

The Smoke Sax” was built in 1993 by artist Bob Wade of Austin, TX. It is 70 feet tall and is made of an oil field pipe, an upside down Volkswagen Beetle, beer kegs, canoe, hub caps, a surf board and chrome. Until March 2013 this was located at the Horn Bar and Grille on Richmond Avenue in Houston, TX. However, in March 2013 it was disassembled and will be eventually added to the unique folk art center called the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. They also are the sponsor of the Houston Art Car Parade.

VW Base of the Smoke Sax
VW Base of the Smoke Sax
VW Hood Sax Valves on Smoke Sax
VW Hood Sax Valves on Smoke Sax

Clear across the country in Wolf Creek, Oregon an artist has created two Spider Bugs out of old Volkswagens. Roadside America covered these and, it turns out that these are not the only ones around. There are actually dozens of them. The website Weburbanist has a fine page dedicated to a number of these from around the U.S. including Oklahoma, Idaho, California, Ontario, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and even in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

Spider Volkswagen - Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Volkswagen – Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Car - Wolf Creek, Oregon
Spider Karmann Ghia – Wolf Creek, Oregon

Heading back eastward one can venture into Kadoka, South Dakota, near the Badlands National Park and see a unique piece of art made from car parts, including a smashed car as a base…

"Scrappy" the Scrap Metal Buck by Brett Prang - Kadoka, South Dakota
“Scrappy” the Scrap Metal Buck by Brett Prang – Kadoka, South Dakota

Then there is the old truck with a Giant Potato on it at The Spud Drive-In in Driggs, Idaho

The Spud Drive-In - Teton Valley, Idaho
The Spud Drive-In – Driggs, Idaho

More emulation of Cadillac Ranch can be found at the now closed down Rio Brazos Music Hall in Granbury, Texas

Rio Brazos Dance Hall - Granbury, Texas (now closed)
Rio Brazos Music Hall – Granbury, Texas (now closed)
Old Trucks - Rio Brazos Music Hall - Granbury, Texas
Old Trucks – Rio Brazos Music Hall – Granbury, Texas

Commerce, Oklahoma, one of those Route 66 touristy towns has used parts of cars for advertising

Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma
Car Advertising in Commerce, Oklahoma

Then there are the places with Cars on roofs and signs and walls to draw people in:

Big Daddy's Restaurant - Lake Norman, North Carolina
Big Daddy’s Restaurant – Lake Norman, North Carolina

Big Daddy’s is located in the heart of NASCAR Country in North Carolina. And to prove it they have a number of cars on their roof and on their lot.

Big Daddy's - Lake Norman, North Carolina
Big Daddy’s – Lake Norman, North Carolina

The Route 26 Mart in Scottsbluff, Nebraska touts itself as an Americana Convenience Mart and has on old finned Chevy on its roof to pull you in….

Route 26 Mart - Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Route 26 Mart – Scottsbluff, Nebraska

The Pioneer Auto Show in Murdo, South Dakota tries to draw you in with advertising some of the unique cars…

Pioneer Auto Show - Murdo, South Dakota
Pioneer Auto Show – Murdo, South Dakota

Angel’s Diner in McAlester, Oklahoma uses old cars to advertise their 60’s themed restaurant and Happy Days Motel.

Angel's Diner - McAlester, Oklahoma
Angel’s Diner – McAlester, Oklahoma

Of course, what would a Car Art post be without limos with Longhorns on their hoods??

Longhorn Limo - at Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas
Longhorn Limo – at Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas

The Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, home of the 72 Oz steak, offers rides in their Longhorn Limos.

Longhorn Limos at Big Texan Steak House, Amarillo, Texas
Longhorn Limos at Big Texan Steak House, Amarillo, Texas

I have run across a couple of places where cars have been integrated into the buildings. Here is one example from western Oregon:

Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon
Blue Banana Espesso Bar in Lostine, Oregon

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the iconic and well known Nash AirFlyte that sits outside of Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Iowa, better known as the home of the History Channel’s American Pickers.

Nash AirFlyte at Antique Archaeology
Nash AirFlyte at Antique Archaeology
Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa
Sumoflam with old Nash at Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa

The only Corvette Factory in the world is in my home state of Kentucky, in Bowling Green. They are also the home of the Corvette Museum and they have a nice one on a pedestal…

Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Old Corvette on pedestal at Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Finally, there are all of those old trucks and cars that scatter the landscape in yards and fields around the U.S. These can be seen on back roads and some are obviously used as yard decor…

Old Pickup in Cumberland Gap, Kentucky
Old Pickup in Cumberland Gap, Kentucky
Old truck in Sisters, Oregon
Old truck in Sisters, Oregon
Old Car with mannikin in Fletcher, Ohio
Old Car with mannequin in Fletcher, Ohio
Old Car at old gas station in Oakdale, Ontario, Canada
Old Car at old gas station in Oakdale, Ontario, Canada
Old pickup with swans in Disputanta, Kentucky
Old pickup with swans in Disputanta, Kentucky
Old car in Chester, Montana
Old car in Chester, Montana
Old cars in trees near Albatross, Missouri
Old cars in trees near Albatross, Missouri
Old truck with old signs in Bellevue, Idaho
Old truck with old signs in Bellevue, Idaho
Old car in Blue, Oklahoma
Old car in Blue, Oklahoma
Swamp Thing Chevy pickup in Uncertain, Texas
Swamp Thing Chevy pickup in Uncertain, Texas
Old truck near Rexburg, Idaho
Old truck near Rexburg, Idaho
Old car and truck in Elk Point, South Dakota
Old car and truck in Elk Point, South Dakota

I have a dozen more of these, but I think you get the “pictures.” So, get out and Enjoy the Ride and be on the watch out for those old vehicles that helped someone else Enjoy the Ride in the past!!!

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

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