(ODD)yssey, Blog Post

Sloths, Stonehenge & Oz: Highlights from our 2017 road trips


Before a new year begins, let’s take a look back at an amazing 2017 on the blog. I hope your 2018 will be wonderful.

Seven over-sized roadside attractions in Kentucky

Big Things from a trip to Cave City, Bowling Green and Louisville, KY. In one weekend, Sweetums and I saw: the World’s Largest Baseball Bat, Vampire Bat, Pair of Underwear, Pair of Clasping Hands, Golden Statue of David, Glass of Bourbon and Bottle of Bourbon, in addition to some over-sized (but not largest) things. Click here to see the photos.

Kentucky Stonehenge and Rock Park, Munfordville, KY

ky-stonehengejpg-ca9b1274f26f4c30 (1)
(Photo by Wil Elrick)
(Photo by Wil Elrick)

I shared some of these photos on AL.com rather than the blog but it is worth revisiting. In this small Kentucky town, resident Chester Fryer searched for the largest rocks he could find and created a Stonehenge replica on his property. It was designed to reflect the points on a compass rose with additional rocks marking the cardinal directions. Click here to see more photos.

Shaker Village, Auburn, Ky.

shaker hotel
(Photo by Wil Elrick)

Do you know much about Shakers? Although they lived simply, they aren’t the same as the Quakers, Amish and Mennonites. On our trip to Kentucky earlier this year, Sweetums and I passed a sign near Auburn, Ky., about 15 miles north of Tennessee saying “South Union Shaker Village” and, of course, we had to detour. Check out our photos.

Land of Oz fall festival, Beech Mountain, N.C.

oz 28

Y’all, we had the best time. The park’s website calls it an “anti-theme park” because it didn’t have rollercoasters or other thrill rides. Oz was and is an interactive experience, where characters from the books and movie appear along the road made of 44,000 custom-made yellow bricks. You have to see all the photos, plus some vintage postcards, by clicking here.

Blowing Rock, N.C.

blowing rock 1b
(Photo by Wil Elrick)

The Blowing Rock is a wave-shaped cliff that hangs over Johns River Gorge. It is known as the Blowing Rock because, on certain days, lightweight items such as leaves or blades of grass thrown over the edge at 4,000 feet above sea level will blow back to the person who threw them via strong wind currents. Because of this, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not dubbed it: “The only place in the world where snow falls upside down.”

The Blowing Rock website says: “The phenomenon is so called because the rocky walls of the gorge form a flume through which the northwest wind sweeps with such force that it returns light objects cast over the void.” See more photos by clicking here.

‘Green Mile’ Mansion, Blowing Rock, N.C.

(Photo by Wil Elrick)

The mansion was built by Moses Cone, described by BlueRidgeHeritage.com as a “prosperous textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist of the Gilded Age,” beginning in 1899. Completed in 1901, the manor overlooks a lake and has an incredible view of the mountains. His wife Bertha helped plan the home, which is in the Victorian Neo-Colonial style.

The home is located at Mile Marker 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The estate’s 3,500 acres is now a park with horse-riding and walking trails.  We would later learn Flat Top Manor was used in filming the movie “The Green Mile,” acting as the Georgia Pines nursing home show in the movie. Click here to see the photos.

Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, N.C.

The 1882 store itself was fascinating on the exterior: Its clapboards were wavy with age and one corner of the store leaned forward like the earmarked page of a well-loved book. Inside, the floor-to-ceiling shelves were filled with “notions.” You could find mason jars or apple butter, antique coolers filled with bottle of Nehi and Cheerwine, books, classic toys, quilts, snacks, tools, shoes, overalls, livestock feed, souvenirs and more. It also still houses the community’s post office and is a gathering place for locals. Click here for more photos.

Grave of Coke inventor, Linwood Cemetery, Columbus, Ga.

linwood coke 2
(Photo by Wil Elrick)

The most interesting grave site at Linwood Cemetery was that of John Stith Pemberton (1831-1888), the pharmacist credited with creating Coca-Cola. Pemberton was born in Knoxville, Ga., and raised in Rome, Ga. By the age of 19, he had earned his license to practice pharmacy from a Macon medical school … Pemberton served as an officer in the Confederate army and was wounded in his chest in the Battle of Columbus, leading to an addiction to morphine. Coca-Cola, initially called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, was developed while Pemberton experimented with alternatives to morphine and cures for addiction. Oddly, he used cocaine as an ingredient in his elixir thinking it would help overcome addiction. At the time, little was known about the effects of cocaine and it was eventually removed from the drink. Click here for the full story.

Sloth Encounter, Gulf Coast Zoo, Gulf Shores, Ala.

(Photo by Shannon Kazek)

How can you meet a sloth up-close-and-personal? Those who followed along on social media for my recent trip to the beach with Baby Girl know we got to have a sloth encounter at the wonderful little Gulf Coast Zoo. It was thanks to Sweetums, who bought Baby Girl the tickets for Christmas and then sent us on our trip to the beach for her birthday. See all the photos by clicking this link that routes you to my slideshow on AL.com.

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