Tag Archives: duck

Cabazon dinosaurs sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Dino you are, but what am I?

Now, I’ve seen a lot of roadside dinosaurs in my day, but for me, nothing can top the iconic giants of Cabazon, CA. For one thing, unlike some others that come to mind, these guys are beautifully crafted and amazingly realistic (and no wonder: their designer, Claude Bell, created all the statuary at Knott’s Berry Farm in the 1940s and 50s).

Cabazon dinosaurs sketch by Chandler O'Leary

For another, these dinosaurs are no mere statues: like their distant cousin Lucy, they’re buildings. And since they now house a bizarre creationist museum and gift shop (which I could not bring myself to pay money to support by entering), I think that now officially qualifies them not just as dinosaurs, but also as ducks!

Cabazon dinosaurs sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Best of all, these dinos were prominently featured in the cult classic and ultimate road trip movie, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. When I finally got here last year, it felt like completing a pilgrimage.

And yes, of course I did the Pee Wee laugh when I got there! You don’t even have to ask.



Lindstrom sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Griddle-r on the roof

Well, I guess if you sell hot dogs, it’s pretty hard to compete with the frankfurter meccas of Chicago and New York, where they have mastered every wiener gimmick known to man. Still, if you set up shop in a small town like Lindstrom, Minnesota, you don’t exactly have to work too hard to stand out.

I’m glad these folks don’t seem to have gotten that memo, because this place just charmed the heck out of me. I mean, go big or go home, right?

Giant Spokane milk bottle sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Milking it

Remember my post about Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle? Well, it might be the best giant milk bottle in Spokane, but it’s not the only one. Built in the 1930s, the bottles served as neighborhood satellite stores (read: ducks!) for the Benewah Dairy Company. After Benewah folded in 1972, the bottles came to serve different purposes. This one might not be as fun or picturesque as Mary Lou’s—in fact, it’s downright head-scratching that it now holds a chimney masonry business. But it the end, that doesn’t matter: I’m just glad there are still two giant milk bottles in Spokane, and that they’re both being lovingly cared for.

Lucy the Elephant sketch by Chandler O'Leary

The mammoth of Margate

We’ve all heard of the elephant in the room, but how many people can say they’ve been in a room in an elephant? Well, last week I finally joined the ranks of those who can.

There are probably thousands of roadside attractions in the U.S.—some (like the Corn Palace, Paul & Babe, the Blue Whale and Salem Sue) are so iconic they almost transcend the genre. And Lucy might just be the queen of them all.

Lucy the Elephant sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Her story is a bit of an odd one. She was built in 1881 by a real estate developer—as Lucy was one of the taller buildings (yes, she is a building, not just a sculpture!) in town, the developer invited prospective customers to climb her staircase and view adjacent property parcels from the houdah (pavilion) at the top. Lucy, of course, became a bigger tourist draw than the local real estate market—her owner even built a much larger copy at Coney Island (Lucy’s big sister burned down in 1896).

Lucy was sold and resold over the years, and the room in her belly served as a residence, a restaurant, a business office, and even a tavern at one point. She survived visiting tourists, rowdy barflies, several remodeling jobs, a tavern fire, and many hurricanes. By the 1960s, though, she was in such a sorry state she was slated for demolition. A group of concerned locals banded together in the 1970s to move her slightly inland and restore her to her original glory—in 1976 she was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The rest, as they say, is history. Now, you know how I’m going to finish this story, right?

Lucy the Elephant sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Yep, you guessed it. The end.

Giant Orange sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Orange you glad

Apparently these giant orange stands (which are actually ducks) used to be so common along the old Pacific Highway that by the time you got thirsty on your journey, you’d have arrived at the next one. There are just a handful remaining today, and I was extra lucky to discover that this one was actually still a functioning juice stand (though inside the attached building, no longer the orange itself).

Because let me tell you, this is one advertising ploy that must have worked well: by the time we reached the door, we were ready to shell out any amount for fresh orange juice.

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Did you remember to vote for the best Twine Ball? Hurry and cast your vote, and we’ll declare the winner on Thursday!

Giant Artichoke sketch by Chandler O'Leary

We’re going to need a lot of butter

Confession: I planned an entire leg of my trip around this place. Now, pretty much all of the central California coast is worth any detour, if you ask me, but when it comes to the kitsch category, Castroville’s got a permanent blue ribbon in my book. And while Giant Artichoke is not quite technically a duck, considering that all the fruit stands inside are basically mini-ducks themselves, I figure it’s close enough to count.

Giant Artichoke sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Giant milk bottle sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Bottled up

You know how much I love kitschy restaurants and giant statues of random objects—so you can imagine how happy I am whenever the two are combined into one.

Milk bottle cafe sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And when said eatery serves up a mean huckleberry shake to boot—you can bet I’ll be a fan for life.

Milk bottle cafe sketch by Chandler O'Leary