Tag Archives: Oddities

Summer’s Pretty Much Over, So Why Not Another Road Trip?

Fall is Perfect for the Open Roads

Summer may be over, but that’s no excuse to not travel! If you’re looking for that last hurrah, look no further than this article about truly offbeat places by our Guest Contributor, Sally Perkins.

A big thank you to Sally, who has written for us before. We’re thrilled to have her back in this installment about unexplored places in America’s Midwest, West Coast, and the South. Sally is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.

Spice Up Your Road Trip with These Unique Ideas

By Sally Perkins

There is nothing more appealing than setting out on the wide-open road with your friends for the road trip of your dreams. But wouldn’t it be even more fun to take a road trip that only you and your friends have witnessed? By setting out on any of these unique road trip ideas, you can guarantee that your trip is unconventional and full of irreplaceable memories that you’ll never forget.

Unconventional Road Tripping Maps 

We’ve all heard of the great American road trips on Route 66 or visiting any of the popular national parks, like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. Make your road trip interesting by choosing to take a route that is, as they say, off the beaten path. Oftentimes, the best road trips are the ones that take place spontaneously and in places you wouldn’t normally view as exciting. Try driving across your own home state for a change! Here’s some examples…

Ohio: Ohio is the classic flyover state. Though it gets mentioned in television and films a lot, it is actually home to many strange attractions to spice up your road trip fun. Starting in the northeast corner, in Geneva, you can stop for a game of miniature golf at the oldest mini-golf course in the U.S. You can then visit the many graveyards in the state where former U.S. presidents now rest, including James Garfield in Cleveland. You can also pay homage to the Rockefeller family. There are also a bunch of truly weird attractions, like the world’s largest loaf of bread in Urbana, and haunted places like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, where the famous movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed.

Bay Area: If strange places in the Midwest don’t interest you, there’s also the beautiful West Coast. The San Francisco Bay Area is a great place to start. Driving in nearly any direction for a few hours will bring you to stunning sites of nature and wildlife. Heading north three hours, you’ll hit the Anderson Valley region. A little less conventional than Napa or Sonoma, this wine-tasting locale also includes an award-winning brewery, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, facilities for cheese making that you can tour, and state parks like Henry Woods

Southern Charm: A third idea for an unconventional road trip is to visit the vast south and hit the road. Though you may not know it, Texas is home to plenty of bizarre happenings, from alien-sightings to spaceship dwellings. Beginning in the northeast part of the state, you can visit the gravesite of a pilot from a UFO in Aurora, Texas. Hitting a few of these stops on your trip will definitely add to the fun and eccentricity of your road trip.

Prepping for your Road Trip 

It is a good thing to keep in mind that you should make sure your vehicle is ready for the ride before setting out. While you and your friends’ attitudes may be to get on the road as fast as possible and deal with the particulars later, checking your vehicle’s oil, mileage, and tire pressure are all wise safety checks to confirm before driving long distances. Taking the proper steps to cleaning your car will make the trip easier, as you will have a clean slate and a more fuel-efficient vehicle from the very start. 
 
Planning an unconventional road trip takes time and consideration, but your friends will certainly thank you once you are discovering parts of the wild that you may never have witnessed otherwise.

Reno’s Spider Bug

It Rises

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As you may recall, UndiscoveredWanderings spent a good chunk of summer 2016 in Reno, Nevada–part of our three-month inaugural road trip that took us across America, plus a couple excursions to Canada and Mexico. Our stay in Reno was short but memorable: we went drifting, found a swap meet for car people, visited a foreign country just outside Virginia City, and we even did a feature on the famous In-N-Out, which is something we’re sadly missing on the East Coast. What wonderful burgers that place has!

It was during our visit to In-N-Out that we noticed, around the corner, a creature hanging out on the roof of a neighboring building. 

And that’s when we met the spider car sculpture, adorning the top of Scudder’s Performance automotive shop. Technically in the neighboring city of Sparks, the Spider Bug, as it’s locally known, is already famous among locals and car buffs. Once built for another purpose by artist David Farmbrough, Mr. Scudder rescued the spider–which has an old VW Bug for a body–from the scrap heap and made it the unofficial mascot of his business. The Spider Bug has sat atop Scudder’s Performance for the last several years now, making it a welcome fixture in a city known for quirky things.

Links
Scudder’s Performance

The Red British Phone Booth (That’s Not Really A Phone Booth)

We Found Another One

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We seem to have a fascination with phone booths–maybe because they’re disappearing from the landscape. We found one in the middle of rural Oregon last summer, and some months later, we stumbled upon this one, which is styled after the famous red phone booth icons found in London. It’s conveniently located in downtown Watkins Glen, NY right in from of the Wildflower Cafe.

But there’s a caveat: it’s not actually a phone booth because there’s no phone in it. It’s a tourist kiosk with brochures, but don’t let that stop you taking a picture with it 🙂

Tour an Old Mine in the Back of a Restaurant. No, really.

Back of the Bar, Then Take a Right.

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How do we put this? Well…there’s an old silver mine in the back of a bar in Virginia City, Nevada.

Huh, that was easier than we thought.

Virginia City is a neat old town. Found in the hills of Northern Nevada, 45 minutes from Reno, this old mining town was critical to Nevada when it achieved statehood 150 years ago, helping to give it the name “The Silver State”.

Mining was and still is a HUGE industry in Nevada. But many mines run their course and then they’re sealed, forgotten or, in this case, turned into a museum with walk-through tours.

Enter The Best and Belcher Mine. It’s the location that got our attention. You see, the mine is literally in the back of the famous Ponderosa Saloon in Virginia City. And by “the back”, we mean that you walk in, buy a ticket for the tour, and you enter the mine through what looks like a cellar door at the back of the building. Just casually going to the bar, getting a bite to eat, check out the old mine. Just another day.

We got a real kick out of it. In historical context, it actually makes a lot of sense because the Ponderosa Saloon is in a building that once housed a bank. Virginia City has a lot of cool history like this.

The 25-minute tour is really cool. The mine is well preserved and full of old mining equipment from back in the day, plus some neon-colored…uh…rocks? See the last pic in the gallery below to figure that one out. You’ll get a feel for what it was like to work in such crazy conditions all those years ago, all in the name of the invincible dollar.

We included a couple photos, but we don’t want to spoil it for you. We promise it will be worth the trip.

Links
Information on Mine Tours in Virginia City
Ponderosa Saloon

What’s This Strange Thing?

Add This One to Your Oregon Trip

Special thanks to Oregon Department of Transportation for their cooperation on this article.

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Oregon’s a beautiful state. For those who’ve only been to the coast, we recommend driving through Eastern Oregon. The unrivaled views are amazing. And along the way, you’ll find some interesting curiosities, like this phone booth. We did a double take when we saw this one.

It’s one thing to occasionally find the ever-disappearing payphone these days, but it’s a completely different story to encounter an actual phone booth! Complete with windows, vintage phone sign, and, presumably, a working phone (although it was out of order when we visited). This was too good not to feature on UWanderings. These relics from the past are almost gone; we’re happy that ODOT preserved this one.

The crazy things we find on the road. Seriously.

This gem from the past is located at Boardman Rest Area in North Central Oregon, off of I-84. See map above for details. Happy travels!