Going to California: Real Goods Solar in Hopland, CA

Welcome to Real Goods
Welcome to Real Goods
As I mentioned in my previous post, along the way to Red Bluff and Woodflock, we made a stop at Real Goods in Hopland, CA.  The place was so unique and fun that it deserved its own special blog post.

The Real Goods Store got its start in 1978 with a focus on solar equipment. According to their website, the store was originally envisioned as a one-stop-shop where people could find everything they needed for their remote homesteads. The store began with the sale of the first retail solar panel in the United States and the humble goal of changing the world.

Setting up solar water heater on Hopi Reservation in 1990
Setting up solar water heater on Hopi Reservation in 1990
This is of particular interest to me as I worked in the Solar Water Heater industry in Japan from 1989 to 1991 for Asahi Solar Corporation.  During that 2 1/2 year stint I represented the company on visits to China and the United States, in conferences and exhibits and more.

Sumoflam with the Colorado State Stellar V, which took 9th place out of 32 cars
Sumoflam with the Colorado State Stellar V, which took 9th place out of 32 cars
We also sponsored two college solar cars in the original GM Sunrayce in 1990 (Colorado State’s Stelar V and Arizona State’s Sun Devil Cruiser) and  brought the cars and their teams to Japan to compete in the Asahi (TV/News) Solar Car Race in Kobe, Japan.  Further, during my work I assisted in the installation of the first solar water heater on the Hopi Indian Reservation.  Working with the company, I was also instrumental in the company adding solar electric panels to their new headquarters building in Oita, Japan in 1991.

real-goods-solar-living-sourcebook-1With my involvement in solar, I also purchased a copy of the Solar Living Source Book back in 1990, while attending the Solar Energy Conference in Denver, CO.   Real Goods founder John Schaeffer published his first edition of The Solar Living Source Book in 1982. It was written as a one-stop information source for renewable energy and sustainable living. The Source Book is a comprehensive reference for the layperson on renewable energy technologies and sustainable living. It is now in its 14th Edition and has sold over 700,000 copies.

Sumoflam with Solar Expert and Real Goods founder John Schaeffer
Sumoflam with Solar Expert and Real Goods founder John Schaeffer
Little did I know that when I visited Real Goods on this trip that I would also have the opportunity to meet and speak with John Schaeffer, the founder of Real Goods and also the author of this Solar Living Source Book.  In fact, I now have the latest edition which was kindly signed by Mr. Schaeffer and he was also kind enough to get a picture with me.

Needing to Pee? Evidence of things to come!
Needing to Pee? Evidence of things to come!
Initially, I was not aware that we would be making a stop at Real Goods (nor did I even know of its existence!).  But Carla surprised me.  Knowing my penchant for quirky and unique places, she thought this would be a good place.  As we pulled into Hopland, immediately I could tell that a unique place was coming up.  First thing I saw on the side of the road was a “Needing to Pee?” sign. HA!  I had never seen one of those before.  Other signs included:

“Real Goods Solar Living Center”

“Everything Under the Sun”

“Weird Restrooms”

“Soothing ponds and Oasis”

“Greenest Store on Earth”

Soon we were turning into the Real Goods entrance, which is also home to the Solar Living Institute. I got pretty excited about the “solar” part though didn’t have much time to look at that AND the store.

MetalSculpture
Sumoflam with “Horn Serpent” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris
First thing that caught my eye as we pulled into the parking lot was a giant metal sculpture which looked like a dragon with a square Victrola speaker head.  Turns out that this sculpture is called “Horn Serpent” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris.  I am always enthralled by scrap metal sculptures such as this (and sometimes these are plain metal sculptures…not made from scrap metal).  this one was a doozy!

The sign talking about "Weird Restrooms"
The sign talking about “Weird Restrooms”
From there I went to the store.  They were supposed to have “Weird Restrooms,” which would be a “must see” quirky adventure for me.

I needed to use the restroom anyway…the red sign provoked me, I promise!

DSC_2463
Explanation of Weird Restrooms

The "weird part" is the recycled toilet tank lids that cover the wall.  Other recycled items can be found within as well.
The “weird part” is the recycled toilet tank lids that cover the wall. Other recycled items can be found within as well.
I also caught an interesting sign in the restroom, though there were no examples of this to be seen in the restroom.

The Toilet Sink sign...there were none here...
The Toilet Sink sign…there were none here…

Caroma2
…but we have one!! Our Caroma Profile Smart toilet
I got a kick out of “The Toilet Sink” sign.  Many probably don’t get it, but I can assure that Julianne and I do get it.  We actually HAVE ONE!!  When we remodeled our home a couple of years ago, we were going to have a small half bath. We thought back to our days in Japan and VOILA! We found one here in the use made by Caroma called a Profile Smart toilet. A bit pricey but perfect for our needs.
caroma1
The Caroma Profile Smart has a dual flush system too in order to conserve water. We may have the only one like it in Lexington, KY
Just around the corner from the “Weird Restroom” is an even stranger contraption, a funky drinking fountain…

The funky drinking at real Goods
The funky drinking at Real Goods

Grow-thru Cars at Real Goods (photo courtesy of roadsideamerica.com)
Grow-thru Cars at Real Goods (photo courtesy of roadsideamerica.com)
And, from what I understand, there are many other quirky things I missed on the grounds (due mainly to our lack of time there) including trees growing out of cars (The Memorial Car Grove).  This is where the rusting hulks of 50s and 60s “gas hog” cars have been turned into planter boxes for trees and flowers! These ‘grow-thru cars‘ are a fitting counterpoint to the ‘drive thru‘ redwood tree a hundred miles north. I am sorely disappointed to have missed this one since I have been to a number of other car art places such as Carhenge, Cadillac Ranch, Rabbit Ranch and “Spindle” (which no longer exists).

A view of the Real Goods Store
A view of the Real Goods Store

Another view of the Real Goods Store
Another view of the Real Goods Store
The inside of the store is a menagerie of uniqueness with all sorts of items that homesteaders can use.  They have bee keeping equipment, composting toilets, self help books, solar chargers, etc.  Truly a fascinating, one-of-a-kind store (and website).

Bees working in the "see thru" working beehive at Real Goods Store
Bees working in the “see thru” working beehive at Real Goods Store
I was fascinated with the ‘see thru” working beehive.  I have never seen anything like it and to watch the bees hard at was amazing!!

They also sell all of the equipment needed to do your own beehives.

A larger view of the hive....truly an amazing site
A larger view of the hive….truly an amazing site
Real goods is probably the most comprehensive TRUE “do-it-yourself” store I have ever seen.

Beekeeping for Dummies...yes, there is a book for that
Beekeeping for Dummies…yes, there is a book for that

Another view of products in the Real Goods Store
Another view of products in the Real Goods Store

Need hats?  They have plenty of them at Real Goods
Need hats? They have plenty of them at Real Goods

Real Goods Store
Real Goods Store
I am really glad to have been able to stop here and recommend that anyone driving along the Redwood Highway (US Hwy 101) near Hopland, CA stop by this unique store and Solar Education Center.  Unlike me, plan a couple of hours rather than a quick 30 minute stop!!

 

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Going to California: Santa Rosa – Ukiah – Red Bluff

Goofing around at Carla's house with her pink flamingo hat and a few Antsy McClain posters
Goofing around at Carla’s house with her pink flamingo hat and a few Antsy McClain posters

Day 2 of my Woodflock trip started off nice and slow.  No hurry so I was able to sleep in over at Carla’s doublewide in Santa Rosa.  Woke up to a beautiful morning in the trailer park.

Soon, Carla and I were on the road heading north.  She decided to go through Ukiah for a more scenic route (and likely to appeal to my wanderlust!)

In good hands with Carla!! Standing with Agraria by Larry Kirkland
In good hands with Carla!! Standing with Agraria by Larry Kirkland

Santa Rosa is home to a couple of quirky roadside attractions, so we stopped at these on our way out of town.  The first of them was a big hand in front of the mall.  Reminded me that I was in good hands with Carla!!

The Hand statue is actually titled “Agraria” and is by artist Larry Kirkland, who is originally from California but currently has his studios in Washington, D.C.  It was commissioned in 1996 and is made from the same marble quarry that Michaelangelo used centuries ago.  Kirkland has done commissioned works all over the world.

Back side of Larry Kirkland's "Agraria"
Back side of Larry Kirkland’s “Agraria”
Front side of Larry Kirkland's "Agraria" in Santa Rosa, CA
Front side of Larry Kirkland’s “Agraria” in Santa Rosa, CA
"Guardian of the Creek" - a big fish in Santa Rosa, CA
“Guardian of the Creek” – a big fish in Santa Rosa, CA

After the big hand, we visited another site, a big mosaic fish in a park. Entitled “Guardian of the Creek” this one and a half ton fish by Santa Rosa artist Mario Uribe. It is 13 foot high and covered in mosaic. It is surrounded by a 30 foot diameter mosaic map of the Santa Rosa Watershed. The large rainbow trout has become an icon and reminder of the restoration efforts by the city to nurture the creek habitat to a more natural state. I really loved the colorful mosaic…certainly one of the nicer big fish statues I have seen.

"Guardian of the Creek" by Mario Uribe. In Santa Rosa's Prince Memorial Greenway
“Guardian of the Creek” by Mario Uribe. In Santa Rosa’s Prince Memorial Greenway
Detail of Park Bench at Prince Gateway
Detail of Park Bench at Prince Memorial Gateway
Another portion of lovely park bench in Santa Rosa, CA
Another portion of lovely park bench in Santa Rosa, CA
Sumoflam at the base of "Cyclisk"
Sumoflam at the base of “Cyclisk”

Another Uber Quirky Attraction in Santa Rosa is the 65 foot tall obelisk completely made from junk bike parts.  The artwork, entitled “Cyclisk.” It was created in 2010 by Petaluma-based artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector and weighs about 10,000lb and is made from roughly 340 recycled bicycles collected from local nonprofit community bike projects. It took nearly four months of welding to manufacture.

A conglomeration of old scrap bicycle parts makes up the "Cyclisk" sculpture
A conglomeration of old scrap bicycle parts makes up the “Cyclisk” sculpture
"Cyclisk"
“Cyclisk” by Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector – 2010
US Highway 101 heading north into Mendocino County
US Highway 101 heading north into Mendocino County

These three unique pieces of art really made the entire trip worthwhile in and of themselves! But, there was much more to be seen on the way to Red Bluff. We took the scenic route up US Hwy 101 through Geyserville and Hopland and then up to Ukiah.

Needing to Pee?

Roadtrips always have their surprises, and this one was no exception. As we approached the small town of Hopland, once a thriving agriculture area known for hops, the first thing I see is the big red sign shown to the left. No joke! I’ve never seen a sign like that before!

IMG_2911.JPGTurns out that the sign, and the others that followed it, were to get one to stop at Real Goods Solar, a store that sells off-grid living items including solar panels, bee keeping equipment, hemp products, composting toilets, etc. Founded in 1978, The Real Goods Store is the original purveyor of Solar Living goods. Originally envisioned as a one-stop-shop where people could find everything they needed for their remote homesteads, the store began with the sale of the first retail solar panel in the United States and the humble goal of changing the world.

Scrap metal “Horn Serpent” at Real Goods

Indeed, the place was so unique that it deserves its own blog post (which will be the next one after this). Suffice it to say it was quirky fun! Read all about soon!

Of the many unique things available for viewing at Real Goods, I have to admit that the scrap metal sculpture entitled “Horn Serpent” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris was the best.  Many know that I “collect” scrap metal art from around the country.  In fact, my most visited post is my “Yard Art” post which features scrap metal art found all over the country.  This one is now part of that post as well.

"Horn Dragon" by Diego Harris.  Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
“Horn Dragon” by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
Ukiah, CA
Ukiah, CA

From Hopland it was on to Ukiah. I have now been to three towns that also are names of Doobie Brothers songs. The other two are Blackwater, MO and China Grove, TX. Yes, I collect (and visit) town names from songs.  Still gotta make my way to Lodi, CA and LaGrange, TX, to name a couple of others.

Carla with some fresh California strawberries
Carla with some fresh California strawberries

Before we got to Ukiah actually, Carla decided that we would make a stop at a Strawberry Stand along the way.  I think we stopped at Saechao Strawberry farm, on the Redwood Highway, another name for this portion of US Hwy 101.  These strawberries were AMAZING!!

They were sweet and luscious.  Who needs candy or cakes when you can enjoy the wonderfully aromatic freshness of these strawberries!

Sumoflam enjoying an amazing California strawberry
Sumoflam enjoying an amazing California strawberry
California Strawberries!
California Strawberries!

With strawberries in hands (and mouths), we passed by Ukiah on US Hwy 101 and made it to Calpella. From there we headed east on CA 20 through some beautiful hill country and then on to Clear Lake (actually, to the small town of Upper Lake, CA).

CA Hwy 20 goes through scenic hill country
CA Hwy 20 goes through scenic hill country

CA 20 is dotted with many small lakes and a number of scenic views.  It is MY KIND of back road highway, with a variety of things to see along the way.   Lots of beautiful scenery and vistas on this drive.  I was so glad we came this way.

Upper Lake, CA
Upper Lake, CA

We finally stopped in Upper Lake, which is a rustic little place nestled in the upper reaches of Clear Lake. The town of Upper Lake is the gateway to the Mendocino National Forest and is a fun little town.  In the middle of town sits an old hotel and also a quaint little outdoor saloon/eatery.

Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, CA
Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, CA

The Tallman Hotel was built in the 1890s and is now a 17 room luxury hotel/bed and breakfast place.  It fits in nicely with the rustic, old west style of the town.

Next door to the hotel is the Blue Wing Saloon and they have a number of nice outdoor dining tables.  The property also has some unique art…yep, more scrap metal art and an array of lovely flowers in the gardens.  It would be a fun place to just chillax for a couple of days.

Taking a selfie with the "springy lady" in the courtyard area of the Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, CA
Taking a selfie with the “springy lady” in the courtyard area of the Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, CA
Rustic old motel chairs...reminds me of the 1960s..Upper Lake, CA
Rustic old motel chairs…reminds me of the 1960s..Upper Lake, CA
Welcome to Upper Lake, CA
Welcome to Upper Lake, CA
Old Town Upper Lake Antiques
Old Town Upper Lake Antiques
"Christmas" Carla (her birthday is on Christmas) poses with a singing cowboy in Upper Lake as we think about Antsy McClain
“Christmas” Carla (her birthday is on Christmas) poses with a singing cowboy in Upper Lake as we think about Antsy McClain
Old fashioned architecture on a shop in Upper Lake
Old fashioned architecture on a shop in Upper Lake
Carla photo bombs me on my selfie of Terry Church's "Moth to a Flame"
Carla photo bombs me on my selfie of Mendocino County artist Terry Church’s “Moth to a Flame”

And, I couldn’t forget this sign which gave me a chuckle….

DSC_2510Heading southeast on CA 20 we skirted the northern part of Clear Lake.  It was a lovely day and so we had some wonderful views of the lake.  Plenty of birds in the water.  I saw grebes for the first time…a really nervous bird.  Also saw a cormorant in flight.

A solitary grebe sits in the lake
A solitary grebe sits in the lake
A cormorant glides across the waters of Clear Lake
A cormorant glides across the waters of Clear Lake
Then there are the human types that glide across the water on their skis
Then there are the human types that glide across the water on their skis
A view across Clear Lake, one of the oldest freshwater lakes in North America
A view across Clear Lake, one of the oldest freshwater lakes in North America

According to some sources, Clear Lake is believed to be one of the oldest lakes in North America. The lake sits on a huge block of stone which slowly tilts in the northern direction at the same rate as the lake fills in with sediment, thus keeping the water at roughly the same depth. Apparently, core samples of the lake’s sediments, taken by U.S. Geological Survey geologists in 1973 and 1980, indicate that the lake is at least 480,000 years old.

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

There are a few towns along the lake, but none as nice as Nice…well, at least not in name anyway.

Nice is actually pronounced “neece” like the town in France.  But, to me, the nice guy, it is Nice.  And it is a nice name to add to my collection of unique named towns like Tightwad, Normal, Romance, Success, Friendship, Uncertain, etc.

Wall painting on a rest area in Lucerne, CA
Wall painting on a rest area in Lucerne, CA

Just up the road is Lucerne, named after the town in Switzerland.  The Rest Area at Lucerne Harbor Park, a turnoff by the lake, had a beautiful painting on the back that you can see coming in from Nice.  One of the more intricate wall paintings I have seen.

Full view of the mural in Lucerne
Full view of the mural in Lucerne, CA

This artwork was completed in mid-2009 by muralist Gloria De La Cruz of Clear Lake, CA. The painting depicts the Old Lucerne Hotel and has intricate work of animals and plant life as well.  I really appreciated this one!

DSC_2544After a brief rest in Lucerne, Carla and I were off again, this time to Williams, CA. Williams is at the crossroads of CA 20 and Interstate 5. From what I could see there were two parts to this town…the off the freeway fast food places and the local places in town.

Detail of a mural on the side of a building in Williams, CA
Detail of a mural on the side of a building in Williams, CA

The Old Masonic Lodge has a wonderful mural immortalizing the old Williams Hotel, which apparently burned down in 1913. The mural covers the entire two story face of the building.  Painted by Petaluma mural artist John Ton in 2014.  Folowing are a couple more detailed photos:

Williams Hotel mural by John Ton in Williams, CA
Williams Hotel mural by John Ton in Williams, CA
Second story portion of the Williams Hotel Mural in Williams, CA
Second story portion of the Williams Hotel Mural in Williams, CA
Welcome to Red Bluff, CA
Welcome to Red Bluff, CA

Once the break was over, we were on our last leg of the day…north on I-5 to Red Bluff and to our home away from home at Woodflock. This small unique music festival and Flamingohead retreat is held annually at the Sycamore Grove Campground in the Red Bluff Recreation area along the Sacramento River.  A beautiful little location that gets bedecked with flamingos and Antsy McClain music over the course of three days.

Welcome to Woodflock!
Welcome to Woodflock!

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Yard Art: Creativity with Scrap Metal, Chain Saw Art and “stuff” collections

Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado

As I travel the backroads of America and Canada I always run across all sorts of what some call “Yard Art”.  Others call it folk art, offbeat art, quirky things, etc.  Well, there is the whimsical and fun, there is the unique and then the downright strange. Some of the sites, like Cadillac Ranch above, are world famous.  Others are in the middle of nowhere and are happenstance and unexpected.  Following is a menagerie of quirky and offbeat whimsy and creativity that I have seen.  Enjoy the ride and see if you have been to any of these places…

SCRAP METAL DINOSAURS AND DRAGONS

Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon - Harrietsville, Ontario
Guitar Playing Scrap Metal Dragon – Harrietsville, Ontario

Perhaps one of the most common types of yard art I see is scrap metal work.  And it seems that dinosaurs and dragons are the most popular.  Here are a few.

(UPDATE II – May 2015: On a recent trip to California, I discovered this great piece called “Horn Dragon” by Upper Lake, CA artist Diego Harris. It certainly fits into this post!)

"Horn Dragon" by Diego Harris.  Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA
“Horn Dragon” by Diego Harris. Currently on display at Real Goods Store in Hopland, CA

(UPDATE – October 2013: I have found another great scrap metal artist besides those noted below.  Visit my post on Larry Vennard from Centralia, Missouri)

Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram - Glasgow, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur chasing a ram – Glasgow, Montana
Big White Dino made of old car parts - Bertram, Texas
Big White Dino made of old car parts – Bertram, Texas
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops - near Rudyard, Montana
Giant Scrap Metal Triceratops – near Rudyard, Montana
Scrap Metal Dinosaur - work done by Wally Keller - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Dinosaur – work done by Wally Keller – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Dragon - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Dragon – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Small triceratops in someone's yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Small triceratops in someone’s yard in Kelly, Wyoming, near Grand Tetons National Park
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Big Scrap Metal Stegosaurus – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Grazing Dinosaur - Harrietsville, Ontario
Grazing Dinosaur – Harrietsville, Ontario
Hungry Dinosaur - Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Hungry Dinosaur – Wally Keller collection near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Skeleton Walking Dinosaur near Murdo, South Dakota
Dragon Biting my head off - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Dragon Biting my head off – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon - Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scary Dragon – Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Metal Dragon Head - Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon Head – Salida, Colorado
Metal Dragon on a Building - Clayton, New Mexico
Metal Dragon on a Building – Clayton, New Mexico

SCRAP METAL CRITTERS

Barbed Wire Buffalo Head – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska

Of course, dinosaurs and dragons are not the only creatures (critters) that can be seen out on the road.  Here are a few more scrap metal (found metal) critters from all over…

Big Parrot - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Big Parrot – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Scrap metal buck made from car parts - Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap metal buck made from car parts – Kadoka, South Dakota
Scrap Metal Horses - Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Horses by Doug Owen – Durant, Oklahoma
Scrap Metal Alligator - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Alligator – Harrietsville, Ontario
Giant Armadillo - Texas Pipe Company - Houston, Texas
Giant Armadillo – Texas Pipe Company – Houston, Texas
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull - Montrose, South Dakota
Gigantic Scrap Metal Bull – Montrose, South Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish - by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Giant Scrap Metal Fish – by Gary Greff, on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family - by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota
Huge Pheasant Family – by Gary Greff on Enchanted Highway in North Dakota

See my complete tour of Enchanted Highway here

Metal Bird - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Metal Bird – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scrap Metal Horse - Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Horse – Oil Springs, Ontario
Scrap Metal Ostrich - Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Ostrich – Salida, Colorado
Scrap Metal Anteater - Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Anteater – Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Turtle - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Turtle – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Horse - Clayton, New Mexico
Big Horse – Clayton, New Mexico
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Pink Flamingo at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Scrap Metal Flamingo - Harrietsville, Ontario
Scrap Metal Flamingo – Harrietsville, Ontario

SCRAP METAL FOLK

The Tin Family - Enchanted Highway
The Tin Family – Enchanted Highway

Of course, dinos and critters are not the only things made out of scrap metal.  People are too.  Perhaps the biggest and most impressive scrap metal people I have ever seen are the three that comprise the “Tin Family” at the end of the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota (if driving from I-94 or first one if driving from Regent, ND).  The Dad is 45 feet tall, Mom is 44 feet tall and the Tin Kid is 23 feet tall.  But, there are many more that are unique.  Here are a few scrap metal folk found on the road…

Greedy Attorney - Jurustic Park - Marshfield, Wisconsin
Greedy Attorney – Jurustic Park – Marshfield, Wisconsin
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse - Sod House Museum - Gothenburg, Nebraska
Barbed Wire Indian Chief and Horse – Sod House Museum – Gothenburg, Nebraska
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band - Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal Mariachi Band – Hico, Texas
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal and wire Man and Dog at entrance to Gates of the Mountains in Montana
Scrap Metal Farmer - Oil City, Ontario
Scrap Metal Farmer – Oil City, Ontario
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Flute Player made from mufflers at Melody Muffler in Walla Walla, Washington
Big Scrap Metal Soldier - near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Big Scrap Metal Soldier – near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors - Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Blackfeet Warriors – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 1 – Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 - Cut Bank, Montana
Blackfeet Warrior 2 – Cut Bank, Montana
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty - Hamtamck, Michigan
Scrap Metal Lady Liberty – Hamtamck, Michigan
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player - Bertram, Texas
15 foot Tall Mariachi Trumpet Player – Bertram, Texas

Then there is the most magnificent of all scrap metal art pieces, the World’s Largest (according to the Guinness Book of World Recrod’s).  This is at the entry of the amazing Enchanted Highway in North Dakota:

Geese in Flight - World's Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture - Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota
Geese in Flight – World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture – Enchanted Highway off of I-94 in North Dakota

CHAIN SAW ART

Chainsaw Guy - Alpena, Arkansas
Chainsaw Guy – Alpena, Arkansas

Obviously, scrap metal is not the only medium used in the creation of yard art.  There is a ton of work don with chain saws and wood.  I have seen hundreds of pieces dot the country.  Here are a few from all over…

Wooden Bear Totem Pole - Gronk's in Superior, Wisconsin
Wooden Bear Totem Pole – Gronk’s in Superior, Wisconsin
Crusty Old Man
Crusty Old Man – Pauly’s Backwoods Gifts and Chainsaw Carvings – Gateway, Arkansas
Wooden Eagle - Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Eagle – Red Cliff, Colorado
Wooden Piano Playing Crow - Winter Wheat - Sparta, Ontario
Wooden Piano Playing Crow – Winter Wheat – Sparta, Ontario
Relaxing Bears - Sawtooth City, Idaho
Relaxing Bears – Sawtooth City, Idaho
Climbing Bears - Robbins Amazing Art - Ridgetown, Ontario
Climbing Bears – Robbins Amazing Art – Ridgetown, Ontario
Big Indian - Blackwater, missouri
Big Indian – Blackwater, Missouri
Big Moose - Shelby, Nebraska
Big Moose – Shelby, Nebraska
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
One of dozens of HUGE trolls in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Another Mt. Horeb Troll - for good measure
Another Mt. Horeb Troll – for good measure
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different.  I have only seen two.
Gigantic Peter Toth carved Indian in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has more than 55 of these around the US, all different. I have only seen two.
Wooden Mermaid - Robbins Art - Ontario
Wooden Mermaid – Robbins Art – Ontario
Lady - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Lady – Sharon, Pennsylvania

The epitome of Chain Saw Art is the Chain Saw Totem Pole forest in Medford, Wisconsin.  Chainsaw Gordy has gone to a whole new cut above…. 21 poles with nearly 400 chainsaws in them, all done by Gordy Lekies.

Chainsaw Gordy - near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Gordy – near Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Totem Pole – Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Forest
Chainsaw Forest

MAILBOXES AS PART OF THE ARTWORK

Milk Can Mailbox - near Burke, South Dakota
Milk Can Mailbox – near Burke, South Dakota

Though not nearly as prevalent as Chain Saw art and metal art, there are the occasional unique mailboxes to be seen on the back roads of America.  I have passed dozens of plastic John Deere mailboxes, fish and cow mailboxes, etc., but then there are the really unique ones….

Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Tin Man Mailbox near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Mailbox for Jurustic Park in Marshfield, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Chainsaw Carved Bear Mailbox, Ontario, Canada
Knot Normal Mailbox - Peebles, Ohio
Knot Normal Mailbox – Peebles, Ohio
Antler Mailbox - Thornton, Idaho
Antler Mailbox – Thornton, Idaho
Chainsaw Mailbox - Medford, Wisconsin
Chainsaw Mailbox – Medford, Wisconsin
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox - Dunkirk, Montana
Scrap Metal Guy Mailbox – Dunkirk, Montana

TOTALLY JUNKED OUT PLACES

Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, Michigan
Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, Michigan

Folk art abounds in this country, but there are some who have taken it to excess with knick-knacks, whirly-gigs, old toys, old stuff and more…and all in one place.  Some in the name of art and some just to, well, have a place for their stuff.  Though I have seen many across the country, here are some of the more outlandish examples (with two or three shots from each place)

Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Windmills and Whirlygigs at Hamtramck Disneyland in Detroit
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Wooden Soldiers at Hamtramck Disneyland
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland - Detroit, MI
Toys on the Roof at Hamtramck Disneyland – Detroit, MI
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland
Even a rocking horse on the roof at Hamtramck Disneyland

Moving on to Woodstock, Ontario and Cliff Bruce’s Windmill Hill, another menagerie of the unusual….(see my writeup here)

Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate - Woodstock, Ontario
Bruce Windmill Hill Main Gate – Woodstock, Ontario
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
Toys, Statues and Whirlygigs at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
More Stuff at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill
Front Porch Collection at Windmill Hill

Meander to Lesage, West Virginia and you can enjoy huge hot dogs while perusing the “collection” of things at Hillbilly Hot Dogs (see a slide show I did a few years ago)

Hillbilly Hot Dogs - Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, LeSage, West Virginia
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Hub Cap Collection at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs
License Plate Tree at Hillbilly Hot Dogs

Then there is the Flower Man House in Houston, Texas. Built by a man who had been a homeless alcoholic for years, he decided to turn his life around and began putting together his interestingly eccentric colorful house, which sits in an otherwise bland neighborhood.

Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Flower Man House - Houston, Texas
Flower Man House – Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! - Houston, Texas
Cheer for the Flower Man!! – Houston, Texas

And just around the corner from the Flower Man’s House is another quirky place – the Law Offices of Tim Hootman.  His office is in a brightly colored boxcar and has some unique art sitting outside the place.  Really funky…

Tim Hootman Law Office - Houston, Texas
Tim Hootman Law Office – Houston, Texas
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car - Jim Hootman
Office is in a Bright Green Train Car – Jim Hootman
This babe greets you at Hootman's Law Office
This babe greets you at Hootman’s Law Office
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman's law office in Houston, Texas
Unique metal work AND paint job at Tm Hootman’s law office in Houston, Texas

If these are not quirky enough, how about this place in Lima, Montana…is it a shop, a restaurant, a hotel or just someone’s knick-knack collection?  It was closed, so I couldn’t really find out….

"Not the Hotel California" in Lima, Montana
“Not the Hotel California” in Lima, Montana
Sign is a Saw Blade
Sign is a Saw Blade
Stuff in front of the "shop" in Lima, Montana
Stuff in front of the “shop” in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana
No Steaks and Burgers at this place in Lima, Montana

If you liked the place in Lima, how about the Junk Store in Buena Vista, Colorado?  This place seems to everything (you may not want or need)!!

Darndest Store in Town - Buena Vista, Colorado
Darndest Store in Town – Buena Vista, Colorado
Lots of Stuff at this store
Lots of Stuff at this store
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Need some dolls? Shop in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado
Get Some goodies in Buena Vista, Colorado

I came across this fence in Parker, Idaho… completely made of roadsigns

Sign fence - Parker, Idaho
Sign fence – Parker, Idaho

In the small town of What Cheer, Iowa, a lady has gussied up her yard with old wheels, implements and even has a real “flower bed”!

Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
Wagon Wheel Fence at a house in What Cheer, Iowa
A "Flower Bed" in What Cheer, Iowa
A “Flower Bed” in What Cheer, Iowa

Came across this little “health food store” in Gardner, Colorado, called H Food Store – Huajatollas Foods (see YouTube Video):

H. Food Store - Gardner, Colorado
H. Food Store – Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla's Foods in Gardner, Colorado
Colorful Huajatolla’s Foods in Gardner, Colorado

And finally, we discovered a couple of places on a back road in central Kentucky.  We took Highway 77 (Nada Tunnel Road) and first came across a barn with a hubcap collection:

Hubcap Barn - Central Kentucky
Hubcap Barn – Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky
Closeup of hubcap barn in Central Kentucky

And we also came across this house near Orlando, Kentucky

House near Orlando, Kentucky
House near Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Unique mobile at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky
Water Garden at home in Orlando, Kentucky

Finally, this unique house in Talent, Oregon along with their Shoe Tree:

Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Spooky House in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon
Shoe Tree in Talent, Oregon

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