And the rest, 2017 edition

From my last two posts whooping and hollering about the amazingness of some different lands that we visited, you might get the impression that I don’t appreciate the USA. That would be wrong. I love a place that has this merry-go-round sign for a Chinese restaurant

and this giant polar bear casino

and this crazy pastime

and this sign

and this fish ladder

and so much more that there’s no way I can include even just the best stuff from a four-state road trip in one post. I love you, USA. This isn’t a popularity contest. Chill out.

Across the universe

I was minding my own business this weekend when suddenly I found myself in someone’s garden

and I forgot where I was.

Was I in India?


Grandma Prisbey’s Bottle Village?

Nope. I was at the Haunted Shack Gardens in Pasadena, made by the artist Shrine. And as I usually do in incredibly beautiful places, I got overwhelmed by everything and took terrible photos. I don’t have a single full image of Shrine’s house, which is covered in an elaborate geometric design. No. I got stuck on what the designs were fabricated with:

Sorry. That’s how things go with me. If you want to get a better idea of what this amazing place looks like, and what a real artist can do with a bunch of old garden hoses and rusty bottlecaps and old nitrous canisters,

go to Shrine’s Instagram page where he’s posted some good photos of his place and a lot of his other amazing art pieces too.

Watch. Crystals

Once upon a time I was in a band with some pretty magical creatures. This weekend I had the good fortune to hang out with two of those magical creatures. Would you like to hear about it? Of course you would.

Julie and Elana and I drove around in a really sexy red spaceship car and played with awesome dogs and lolled about in pools of varying temperatures, and we talked and talked and talked. It was such a fantastic weekend. You need to have a weekend like this. If I had my own planet, everybody on the planet would get to have at least one weekend like this. Not too many, lest it not be properly appreciated, but at least one.

It would have been a great weekend even without the Crystal Cave. But we were at this swap meet and Julie said something about a crystal cave being there right in the middle of the swap meet, and well, what would you do if you heard that there was a crystal cave in the middle of the swap meet?



We found it and went in, of course. That guy with the tooth is Bob, and he made the thing. Twice. You can read more about it and see more pictures here. As you can tell from our faces, it was not a disappointment. After we got out of the cave, Bob even let us go in his sooper sekrit light show room. I’m not going to post photos of that because… well, it was sooper sekrit and you should try to go see all of this on your own if you can.

So now I’m back in real life, but I’m still happy because that whole weekend wasn’t a dream and all these people and things really exist in the world, at least for the time being. As we were leaving, Bob told us, “Share the joy!” and so I’m doing my best. Have a good week, everyone.

Top photo and video by me; bottom photo by Elana Scherr

Post-trip script

As usual, there were a few photos from our trip that didn’t fit neatly into other posts. I’m starting to feel like the person who shares way too many vacation slides after inviting friends over to dinner; I’ll understand if you slip away before dessert.

Three blues brothers in Rock Island, Illinois waiting

for a breakfast place to open. They will be waiting for a long time.


An excellent D & D-themed park in Carbondale, Illinois. More photos starting here.

A future water tower from the past when they had better aesthetics for the future. We stayed in a cabin close by and I got menaced by a gang of raccoons when I tried to take a photo of them raiding the dumpster.

An elephant’s grave in Oquawka. A rather sad tale.

An otherwise rather boring mall in Hazelwood, Missouri. I was expecting more from the area labeled “Circus Of Fire.” More photos starting here.

One of many lies in Hannibal, Missouri. A place that seems to be rebranding itself as the Steampunk Capital of the US. I’m not sure what that is about unless it has something to do with that Rush song.

One of my favorite misspellings outside a bar in Keokuk.

A mysterious kingdom in Tennessee.

A sign in Memphis that I would have liked to have seen at night.

Lisa Marie’s toy, which I hope has good memories attached to it.

Miss Ann’s, which shared a parking lot with

these braggarts.

I saw this after I bought some nose spray someplace.

The Frog Farm was an excellent place; we bought a small wooden alligator from the artist Louise Cadney Coleman. I wanted to buy an enormous driftwood peacock but couldn’t figure out how I was going to get that back home. More photos starting here.

The Britney Spears Museum in Kentwood, Louisiana seems to be closed but there is a pretty neat ghostly mural on the wall of the video bingo place.


I kept wanting to get my hair cut and maybe fashioned into a fancy ‘do at various places on the road, but I kept chickening out. I would have gone here but it was closed.

Abita Mystery House, which really must be seen to be appreciated fully. More photos starting here.

And then some random New Orleans things.




margeThere was a lot more. Cats and canoes, tiaras and MG conventions, miserable food at a diner where they kept trying to get us to go to the place next door instead, a delicious bag of apples. Maybe you should do this trip yourself some time.

Rubelia ballet

You can always tell a proper castle by the inability of an amateur photographer to capture its magnificence. Albeit one made of bottles and bike parts and discarded telephone poles, Rubel Castle in Glendora is a proper castle.

I didn’t get a proper photo of the windmill, the fake cemetery, the old caboose, the bottle house, or the Round Table, but here’s the drawbridge. The cannons on top were made by hollowing out some telephone poles. Michael Rubel and his friends shot oranges into the neighborhood sometimes.

Let’s go inside and see more terrible photos that I took.

I didn’t get any photos of the machine shop, the blacksmith shop, or the bird bath that was powered by a very loud 16-ton single piston oil pump, but here’s where the bee hives were kept.

And here’s the clock tower. It was much more impressive in real life. The clock struck eleven when we were there and we got to see the weights whirl around and everything. I did take a photo of that but it came out all blurry.

Finally, I didn’t get any shots of the dumbwaiter Dwight Eisenhower got stuck in, the table Sally Rand danced on for a ten-year-old boy’s birthday party, nor the room Prince Philip liked to hang out in. Here’s a motorcycle stuck in a wall.

And I can’t remember what happened in here. This might have been the queen’s private quarters.

I will never make a proper docent. Let’s just wrap up my lame tour of the incredible Rubel Castle, shall we? Someday maybe I will share with you my terrible photos of the fantastical Schloss Nymphenburg.

The scrap menagerie

If you’ve ever driven on the 5 freeway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, you may have seen a sign for Highway 198. Highway 198 indicates that it is the road to take if you want to go to Lemoore or Hanford. You may not have ever thought you needed to go to Lemoore or Hanford, but you do. Tomorrow we’ll look at Lemoore, but right now let’s check out some guys in a front yard in Hanford.

These guys were really big.

Like “Here’s a Honda Fit for size comparison” big.

I don’t know if this caterpillar was made from Caterpillar parts, but I hope so.

Here are my favorite guys in Hanford.

guysSo now you know why you should go to Hanford. Hanford – Home of Really Big Guys.

Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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About two blocks away there be monsters

The first night of our vacation we stayed in Tucson, where two aunts and a cousin of mine live. I love Tucson. It’s pretty and has a lot of character, and the music is good there too. Benny’s kids seemed to think we were in Mexico and kept asking us if the water was safe to drink.

My Aunt Mo arranged with my Aunt Ellie to let us stay in this really beautiful Spanish Revival-style house of Ellie’s friend Marlene that nobody was living in because… well, it’s sort of complicated. I guess you could imagine an early short story by Truman Capote, but set in the Southwest, and that’s what the deal was with the house. I had called my mother to let her know that we were staying at this house and she told me not to worry if we heard a loud thump in the kitchen in the middle of the night, because it was just Salvatore. Well, then.

We received many more warnings about Salvatore, the kids especially. Salvatore might climb up on the kids in the middle of the night, but if he did that, they shouldn’t touch him. Under no circumstances were any of us supposed to touch Salvatore, in fact, no matter what. The kids didn’t get a very good sleep that night, but Salvatore never appeared.

The next morning, Mo and Ellie and Marlene came by. We thanked Marlene for the use of the house, and she said it was absolutely no problem as long as Salvatore was still alive. This gave me pause, as I had clearly seen a legal pad on the kitchen counter with daily journal-type entries that read, “8/3/12 – No sign of Salvatore today…. 8/6/12 – Did not see Salvatore…”. I am a little afraid that Salvatore is dead and we are going to be held accountable somehow.

Anyway. Mo and Ellie and my cousin Caitlin’s family went to breakfast with us. We briefly discussed the fact that kids still hit mailboxes with baseball bats; this has been happening a lot to Mo lately. Also, Mo and Ellie and Caitlin told us not to miss, or maybe definitely miss, the ridiculous garish Paul Bunyan statue in town – a Paul Bunyan statue with a Mr. Sardonicus grin that was kept behind a fence for safe-keeping. Between Crazed Paul Bunyan and the mailbox marauders and Salvatore, Tucson was seeming much more dangerous than I had remembered it from previous visits. We finished our breakfasts and said our goodbyes.

Thankfully, Crazed Paul Bunyan was only a modified Muffler Man with an axe in his hand instead of a muffler. I’m still not sure what Paul Bunyan has to do with Arizona, but there is a similarly modified Bunyan/Muffler Man in Phoenix. This guy was strange, but nothing to be scared of. We continued through town toward the freeway, and somehow wound up back in my Aunt Mo’s neighborhood. And in the yard of one of the houses in this neighborhood, there were monsters everywhere.

I know that last one looks pretty scary, but overall these seemed like really nice monsters. One even tried to give us a mailbox.

P.S.: We really have no idea what happened to Salvatore.

Simi Valley comes to Los Angeles

Our neighborhood is really shaping up. A few weeks ago Benny and I started noticing that a neighbor was starting work on a bottle wall. It was a rather chic-looking bottle wall, like something that might be featured in Dwell magazine, but it wasn’t humorless. I was kind of excited about the arrival of a bottle structure so close to us, though I have to admit I was occasionally pricked by some “is Grandma Prisbrey‘s folk art aesthetic getting co-opped by yuppie culture?” pangs. But those pangs quickly subsided. With each new weekend the bottle wall grew more and more lovely.

It’s still not finished, but pretty quickly it’s getting to be a substantial wall:

It’s about halfway there, by my estimate, but who knows where it will end? Added bonus: Benny says that last weekend the garage door to this house was open, and when he went by he saw a person drilling holes into the bottles one at a time. And the driller?

A genuine old lady. I am so excited now.

He did all this while you were watching TV

I know it’s a small place, but I don’t think I would ever get bored if I lived in Tinker Town.


More photos after the jump.


Published in: on February 13, 2009 at 8:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Toto, I have a feeling

Once upon a time, I thought that Kansas was a pretty lousy place. This opinion had been formed quite stupidly and prematurely, based only upon the fact that I visited Wichita about a week before college was back in session, and the entire downtown was closed on Sunday with not a soul to be seen other than bronze statues of barefoot children.

And then came Lucas, Kansas to punch my stupid opinion in the nose. I have not been back to Wichita to give it a second chance yet, but I can with all assurances tell you that any state that has a town as amazing as Lucas most certainly does not blow.


(more pictures after the jump)


Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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