Friday, June 29, 2012

Kitschy California

I've taken numerous road trips in my life, but often these journeys are not what they used to be.  One thing I've noticed is that our country is becoming increasingly alike.  What I mean is that many places seem to have a certain sameness – the same chain stores arrayed in the same manner.  Among the many casualties of this cultural uniformity has been the loss of regional dialects, foods, and kitschy roadside attractions.  I was pleased to find one such place, Confusion Hill, still in existence.


It had a bunch of redwood carvings, a miniature train (which we didn't ride), a mystery house full of optical illusions, funny signs, and other things for the kids to do.  It was an attraction preserved in time.

Real neon signs and a great gift shop (notice Kristine sporting the new purse)


Kitschy signs with cutesy sayings everywhere

Balancing on nothing, how do they do it?

So many things to do, there was even a tree ring counting contest (see owners for answer).  The kids guessed close enough so the owner rewarded them with a prize – polished rocks!  Nice.  Oh, and out front was the world's largest free-standing redwood chainsaw carving.  It's always a plus when you have a world record of something at your roadside attraction.

For comparison, note Jonathan at the base by the letter W

For consistency, I've included the carving here next to the Statue of Liberty

There was a nice picnic area at Confusion Hill where we almost had lunch, but as time was short we decided to drive on and take in the Chandelier Tree, near Leggett, California, one of three remaining drive through redwood trees (all in private hands).

Tim driving through the Chandelier Tree

I'm sure they wouldn't let you make them today, but the drive-through tree is a staple of American roadside typologies.  The Chandelier Tree was clearly carved in the days before SUVs as our minivan had to fold down the side mirrors to fit.  After driving through and having to fold the mirrors as we went, Tim asked if he could take a second spin.  I joked to his mother that our trip was great, until Tim drove our car through a tree.  Kristine appreciated the humor – Tim tolerated it.  The park had a gift shop, clean restrooms, and a giant picnic area, worth the money for just the rest area.

Next stop – trash to treasure...

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