Cool Places in America~ The Only State Highway in the Country that Bans Cars!

Yep, my parents moved me again.. This month we are on Lake Huron. On one of its island we found this peculiar road. It is the only state highway in the country that bans cars.

M-185 is a state trunkline highwayin the U.S. state of Michigan that circles Mackinac Island, a popular tourist destination on the Lake Huron side of the Straits of Mackinac, along the island’s shoreline.

The first city ordinances banning all motorized vehicles from the island were passed on July 6, 1898, with similar state park rules coming in 1901. The residents complained after a doctor’s car scared their horses and caused carriage accidents, and these complaints prompted the ban. They even have a horse drawn carriage ride the road to pick up all of the liter. I want to know who picks up after the horses?

One of the main attractions on the road is the Devil’ Kitchen.  Local stories allege that the Native Americans of the Straits of Mackinac considered the cave to be a numinous location inhabited by bad spirits. Allegedly, the spirits were cannibals who would capture and eat victims who ventured too close to the ill-omened location. The cave is blackened with soot to this day, allegedly from the evil spirits’ cooking fires; hence the name, ‘Devil’s Kitchen.’ Me and my parents snuck in at night and roasted marshmallows over a camp fire and made some smores. The governor was vacationing here at his mansion at the time and he even joined us. I will never know why he insisted on burning his marshmallows before he made his smores…

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ Point Breeze N.J. and Napoleon’s Brother?

Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler, once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

Yep, another visit to N.J. The Mad Scientist of the Pines had hired my parents again to develop some software around 2002. On one of our voyages northwest we heard myths of Napoleon escaping to visit his brother in Bordentown.

First you ask, Joseph Bonaparte lived in N.J. The once and not so future king of Spain? Yes. He had a mansion called Point Breeze in Bordentown where the Crosswicks Creek and the Delaware River meet. After the defeat of his little brother, no pun intended, he abdicated the Spanish Throne and returned to France.Three years later a French decree banished all Bonapartes from France, so Joseph went from NYC to Philadelphia and then settled across the river in NJ. He had sailed incognito aboard the American brig “Commerce” to New York.In Philadelphia Henry Clay had put him up in a hotel suite. Joseph then bought 211 acres from a sale of some of the Spanish crown jewels he stole. In time his estate would enlarge to 1,800 acres. Good king Joseph would entertain locals and prominent Americans equally amidst his fine collection of books, artifacts, and art from Europe. Guests would be delivered to his estate by a 16 oar barge. An excellent estate with a man made lake with a bridge over it, trees, gardens, several bridal trails, and 12 miles of carriage ways. Plus several tunnels to escape through! John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster had visited him, these men used to walk the smuggler tunnels in Salem, MA also.

In 1820 a fire burned down the original mansion. Locals rushed in and saved most of his artifacts while he was away. Joseph arrived in time to see his roof fall in. It was rumored a Russian lady set it aflame. Then he built an even grander mansion. This one he decorated with paintings by Velasquez, Rubens, Canaletto, Murillo, Rembrandt and DaVinci. In addition, there was a ‘Statuary Room’ containing antique bronze castings from Pompeii. The library, the largest in the country, numbered some eight thousand volumes at a time when the Library of Congress contained only sixty-five hundred volumes.Above the entrance to the new mansion he had inscribed: “Non ignara mali, miseris succurere” (Not unaware of misfortune, I know to help the unfortunate).

Joseph took at least one mistress (whatever that means) named Annette Savage who bore him a daughter. In 1832, Joseph, now the Bonapartist pretender, moved to London to be closer to France. In 1844 Joseph died in Florence. Then Point Breeze was inherited by his grandson Joseph Lucien Charles Napoleon who held two spectacular auctions of the furnishings before selling the property in 1847. He sold it to who sold it in 1847 to a Thomas Richards. Afterwards Point Breeze was purchased by the son of a former British consul at Philadelphia who had the house razed and replaced by an Italianate villa. A son of a British consul endowed him to hate all things French. He was dubbed “Beckett the Destroyer” by local residents.There were several other houses on the estate, one that housed daughter Zenaide and her husband Prince Charles Lucien. (Daughter Charlotte also stayed on the estate at times, but there is no record of her having her own house). Another housed Bonaparte’s trusted secretary Maillard and served as a gatehouse. In 1958 Becket’s mansion burned down. In 1970, the property was bought by the Divine World Seminary who had built the current building on the site.

So that was another weird location I had found when once again my parents were working for the weird scientist of the Pines…

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ The Wave Organ

Over this summer, my parents have moved us to San Francisco. They thought they were getting a good salary, till they calculated the cost of living in the city… but while I was there I got to listen to this amazing organ played by Njord.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ Hamilton Pool

Heading out of Austin this summer on the way back to the Pines to have my parents work for the Mad Scientist  again. We stopped to cool off and take this swim in a cave right out of James Bond. I kept looking for tattoo…

Just 23 miles west of Austin, Texas, is a breathtaking emerald pool and cave. It was Awesome. I kept looking for the secret laser hidden under the water.  Our host in Austin reserved our day there. We had an amazing time.

To get there it is 23 miles west of Austin, on Highway 71. Surrounded by the Hamilton Nature Preserve. They require reservations from May 15 to September 30. So book early.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ The Dream House and the Sound of Motion

We were just stopping in NYC (Tribeca) on our way back from the Mad Scientist of the Pines when we stopped to check this out. I got to dance to my own band…

 

Created in 1993 by modern composer La Monte Young and visual artist Marian Zazeela; they welcome you come in and become your own composer to the soundtrack of your life. You can be just as bad as Samuel Jackson walking down the street with his own theme playing. Or stand still like Clint Eastwood in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and have your own cool song play.

Then just give up and dance from corner to corner and the light changes to the same frequency of your movements.  Whirl like a Dervish and make some paisley…

Young and Zazeela, the creators,  invite you to dive into their dream world, Wednesday through Saturday from 2PM-Midnight. Check them out and prepare to dance…

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ Thor’s Well

At the beginning of the summer my parents had a contract in Oregon where the Goonies were from. It was such a cool town. On the way to points unknown which their software engineer lives bring them; we found Thor’s Well.

I kept looking inside looking for the Kraken…but I did not see him. Kraken, he is not Greek you silly fools. Good Norwegians like myself know this. I also expected Jack Sparrow to swim out of it. I started to walk out on the stones till my Dad called me back. Oh well.

Its just South of the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center in Cook’s Chasm, Oregon. Park on the West side of Highway 101.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ Bishop Castle Rye Colorado.

Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months….

My parents had taken us back to Colorado a second time. This time we went to Pueblo and not Durango. The people were friendlier in Pueblo. I even went looking for the place that prints that catalog on how to get free stuff from the government, but the coolest thing I found was the castle.

South of Pueblo is the city of Rye. This is where the Bishop Castle is built. Jim Bishop bought the land when he was 15 for $450. Then in 1969 began construction of the castle. It started out a s a one room stone cottage for him and his new wife when he was 25. Neighbors told him what he was building looked like a castle, so he just went along with the idea…  To this day he is still building new additions to the castle on the weekends. He even has a fire breathing dragon attached to it. The fire powered from an old hot air balloon burner. The castle is free to visit, but you can donate for its continued construction and a local charity that supports heart operations on newborn children.

Here are the directions:

The easiest way to get to Bishop Castle is from I-25. Take exit #74 at Colorado City and head towards the mountains. (right off the exit ramp from the north and left off the exit ramp from the south) This puts you on Colorado state highway 165 and it’s 24 miles without a turn to the Castle. You will see signs for the castle as you come upon it, and there’s usually many cars out front.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ Prada Store

 

My parents were once again traveling from one job location to another, across the country. If you know me by know; you know this is nothing new. My parents are software engineers and have been moving me back and forth the country since I was a toddler. Strange as it may be, the sound of tires rumbling in the wheel well below the backseat always lulls me to sleep. Anyway, once we were driving through Texas and my mother had my father slam on the brakes. They had just been paid from the last job; some of it was burning a hole in my mother’s pocket when she seen this Prada shop. She ran out and tried the door; it was locked.

The strange thing I noticed right away was, we were driving for miles without a sign of any neighborhood or lone house, but this Prada store appears… It felt like some portal to hell out of some Terry Gilliam movie. I wanted to yell at my mother not to touch the door because ‘It is evil.’ Just like in the movie she would of touched it anyway and have said, “…but it is Prada!”

This small building sits all alone on US 90 in the middle of the desert under the immense Texas sky. After we got to the next town, an hour away, we found out it’s an art installation created by Michael Emlgreen and Ingar Dragset called Prada Marfa.It cost the team $80,000 to install it.

It’s the only Prada ‘store’ in Texas! I guess they don’t sell ten gallon hats, Stetson, or giant serving platter belt buckles…

The intention of the project is letting it go to ruin; letting nature reclaim it in whatever way she damned wanted to. Prada (who gave approval to use their logo and even donated the shoes and handbags that went inside the store) went along with it to poke fun at themselves on the fleeting nature of fashion. When I visit the Mad Scientist of the Pines, he always brings me to Docspond in Whiting, NJ.

 

Docspond is part of an old nudist colony named Nature’s Rest that burned down in the late 1960’s. The nudist colony was built by two masseuses from the Brooklyn who bought the property from their friend Joseph Parisi. Parisi was a member of Murder Inc., NYC mafia, controlled the garbage union after a few murders, and was an anarchist. The nudists and Parisi owned the old Manchester Iron Forge property which they bought and converted it into a aggregate business in which they would dispose of the bodies within for the NYC mafia. One road leading into the property was aptly named Bone Hill Road.

 

Now Docspond and the adjacent property where the hotel once stood is abandoned and nature has reclaimed it. The buildings and nature have this dance going on with vandals butting in from time to time into the dance. The Scientist explained to me that is what he loved about the place, how man and nature agreed to shape the property through time. So after I got over the fact it was a girl’s store; I learned to like the installation in Texas.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ Dixie Square Mall and the Blues Brothers

Here is a tale from a few years ago before this building got torn down. I always loved the Blues Brothers. It was my father’s favorite too. So I was overjoyed when my parents got a contract to work in Harvey, Illinois. Well not at first…then they told me the mall in which the famous chase scene in the mall which started with a Kermit the Frog was in that town. It became cooler. Then my father asked if I wanted to go urban exploring into this dead mall, Harvey got way cooler!!!

 

Dixie Square Shopping Center was an enclosed shopping mall located in Harvey, IllinoisUnited States, at the junction of 151st Street and the Dixie Highway. It stood vacant for over 30 years, more than twice as long as it was in business. It was famous for having been used, both inside and out, for the mall chase scene in the movie The Blues Brothers. More recently, it achieved notoriety because of a growing Internet cult following (including local urban exploration groups) dedicated to covering the mall’s deteriorating condition. Like other “dead malls“, it had been characterized by high vacancy rates and low patronage, which led to its closure. However, while other dead malls were redeveloped or demolished, Dixie Square stood out due to its extensive neglect, vandalism damage, and sordid history.

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…

Cool Places in America~ The Musical Road

Hello again. I know you probably think I have lived everywhere in America by now, but the truth is that there is still a good 14% I have not been in yet… Thanks to my contract working software engineer parents.

In Lancaster, California in 2008, the Honda Motor Co. approached civic officials and asked them to turn one of their roads into a marketing campaign. They wanted to cut grooves into a road that would would play the William Tell Overture once driven over at 55 mph. They did and it drove the neighbors crazy with people coming from all over to hear it and hear it again. Then they moved it out by the airport in a remote section of town. Why did they not think about that in the first place…

I always like the William Tell  Overture. I have to admit I heard it first on Bugs Bunny, and then the Lone Ranger. Not the original, but he 1980’s Saturday afternoon cartoon and live action versions on YouTube. I still have not gotten to the original black and White. By the way Tonto means ignorant in Apache I think, and Kemosabe is more of a South American native word for ‘doesn’t know any better.’ One of my favorite collections of short stories is by Sherman Alexie called Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fist Fight in Heaven.

One of my other favorite things is the musical stairs in Boston at the Science Museum. I love playing on that!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCvpregdcC0?feature=player_embedded]

~Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida” on Amazon.com. Keep checking back often for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up surprising you and becoming the best vacation you ever had! Red proved to be always full of surprises…