The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 28, 2020

My grandpets recently got together to reenact Edward Hicks’s famous painting series, “The Peaceable Kingdom.”

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 28, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I am missing traveling these days. We stayed put this Thanksgiving and had a quiet meal, just the two of us, at home. For many reasons, we felt this was the safe and wise choice. Apparently however, enough people decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to stay home over Turkey Day and the holiday weekend.

Number of Thanksgiving holiday travelers in the United States from 2005 to 2020 (in millions)

According to the website, holiday travel in the U.S. was down a little bit from the last three years. However, more people traveled this year than they did in the vast majority of the past 15 years. This, despite repeated warnings regarding the pandemic. We’ll see in about two weeks if this had any impact on transmission of the virus.

And then, of course, came the most observed day of the Christian Year…

Let’s take a road trip!

Snow Cap Diner on Route 66, Seligman AZ. (Taken on a trip to AZ in spring of 2019)

Well, since many of us decided not to join the crowds on the road this weekend, let’s do a little virtual traveling today. We’ll journey to some of the more eccentric sites around the U.S. of A.

All of our stops today come from the Eccentric Roadside website, which “is devoted to old-fashioned American roadside attractions… the wonderfully big, bizarre, crazy, wacky, quirky, weird, funny, unique and mundane sites you see traveling cross-country by car in the USA, where getting there really is all the fun!”

World’s Tallest Thermometer (134 ft), Baker CA

Big Duck Gift Shop (built in 1931), Flanders Long Island NY. It’s 15-feet wide, 30-feet long, and 20-feet tall, made of white concrete. It was originally built to advertise a duck farm business. The owners were inspired by a giant coffee pot roadside attraction they had visited.

Corn Palace, Mitchell SD. The exterior murals and decorations are made up of corn kernels, husks and cobs. Visited by over 500,000 people per year.

Dixie Cup Watertower, Lexington KY (1958)

The RV Hall of Fame in (where else?) Elkhart IN

Foamhenge, Natural Bridge VA.



For a more substantial monument, you can visit Carhenge in Alliance NE.

Fork in the Road, Rock City NY


Fork in the Road, Westport MA

Giant Corkscrew, Hurley WI

Harold’s Auto, Spring Hill FL. Originally built by Sinclair, whose logo was a dinosaur, they constructed the station in the shape of a 47-foot tall, 110-foot long apatosaurus back in 1964.

Naughty Amish Pennsylvania town names in the heart of the land of the devout – who, nevertheless, are not above cashing in!


Lenny, the life-sized chocolate moose, Scarborough ME. He’s 1,700-pounds, 8-feet tall, and 9-feet long.

The Idaho Potato Expo and Potato Museum, Blackfoot ID. (“We give taters to Out-Of-Staters”)

Salem Sue, the world’s biggest Holstein cow, New Salem ND. She stands 38 feet high and is 50 feet long.

World’s Largest Teapot, Chester WV.


If coffee is more your cup of tea, there’s The Coffee Pot in Bedford PA

Museum of Pez Memorabilia, Burlingame CA


The museum also features a “Banned Toys” section, which includes this Cold War era science kit. Because who doesn’t want their child learning about how to work with radioactive materials?


And, lest we forget…

SPAM Museum, Austin MN



News story of the year, so far…

With all the craziness of 2020, I can’t think of a more important story than this. Nothing compares when considering our national interest. Please, please pay attention to this warning.

From CNN:

Officials in Jasper, an alpine town in Canada’s Alberta province, have put up signs asking motorists to avoid allowing moose to lick the salt, a treat moose find hard to resist, off their cars.

“They’re obsessed with salt, it’s one of the things they need for the minerals in their body,” Jasper National Park spokesman Steve Young told CNN. “They usually get it from salt lakes in the park, but now they realized they can also get road salt that splashes onto cars.”

By allowing moose to lick the salt off your car, they will become habituated with being around cars. That poses a risk to both the animals and the drivers who can accidentally crash into them.

“Moose and cars are not a good mix….” Young said.

Coolest story of the year, so far…

From NPR:

State officials were flying over southeastern Utah looking for sheep as part of a routine task. Instead they found something straight out of a sci-fi movie.

From a helicopter, officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety spotted a large metal monolith — a single block of metal — last week. It was sitting in Utah’s Red Rock Country in the southeast. Officials have no idea how or when it got there — or who might have placed it.

…In the classic sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey, a group of prehistoric ape-men was baffled by a large black monolith that appeared in an African desert.

“I’m assuming it’s some new-wave artist or something,” Hutchings said, according to KSL TV. “Somebody that was a big fan [of the film].”


75 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: November 28, 2020

  1. I remember Hell, Norway, from a Ripley’s Believe it or Not paperback collection from 50+ years ago. Said that in Norewgian “Hell” (that spelling) means “gentle slope”.

    As for that last suburb of Perth, here’s a Pommy commentary from old Dr Demento:


  2. Renamed after a TV game show of the Sixties.

    Very often, the older names are more exotic (if not funny).
    Like Dairy Valley –> Cerritos (CA).
    Or Mauch Chunk –> Jim Thorpe (PA).


  3. Two major reason Dems in the Senate blocked the Repub “relief” bill;

    1. the $ amount of the package wasn’t anywhere near sufficient

    2. Repubs insist on an across the board business waver from any and all responsibility from covid related injury of employees.

    OSHA regs protect factory and construction workers from carelessness of employers. Why should essential workers (especially) not be afforded protections? I know from experience that when employers are shielded from liability the workers suffer.


  4. There’s a town called Hell in Norway. The Michigan one is probably called after it.

    In Perth, Western Australia, there are suburbs called Cockburn and Innaloo.


  5. And even that wouldn’t have been as necessary if people would just wear masks.


    And the Christians are yelling the loudest at their Superspreader Megachurch Events. Even got the Supreme Court to exempt their churches from all the COVID public health measures. “FREEDOM!!!!!”


  6. Yeah. The Cabazon Dinosaurs (including the Young Earth Creationist gift show in the bront’s belly) before Mornongo Casino pretty much took over the Cabazon area. Now they’re shoehorned into a recent urban sprawl area from the casino.

    P.S. Gotta try that potato soup recipe.


  7. Roadside America was an institution. I have even found articles about it (written by the guy who started it) in online PDFs of Lionel’s old house organ Model Builder starting in 1938 and continuing throughout the 1940s. I used to stop at the place every time I was in that part of PA. (As well as that little diner at the Kutztown offramp before it closed years ago.)

    Yes, I know about the San Diego Railroad Museum. As in their full HO-scale Tehachapi Pass from Bakersfield to Mojave. But Roadside America was one man’s Institution.


  8. Larry,

    I think I have heard of that town! That town usually makes it onto The Weather Channel’s annual Halloween forecast for “spooky cities”!

    Here in Georgia, there is a Butts county.

    One of my favorites, and more well-known, is Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.


  9. I have to say I’m proud of most of the Republican’s in the PA legislature and in the state courts who are again and again rejecting Trump and his allies’ many attempts to throw away millions of legitimate votes, mine among them, in an attempt to overthrow the election outcome.


  10. I am familiar with that stretch of I-10. I would only drive that in winter. (Like the times I went to Tucson.) The valley where Phoenix is located is called “The Valley of the Sun” for a reason. Phoenix itself always reminded me of Los Angeles with better-looking freeway bridges. Last time I was there in summer was for 1992 WesterCon; I dressed for arid tropical and the heat was still bad. I remember when you stepped out of shadow into full sun, you could literally feel the heat hit like a door slamming in your face.

    As a kid, we often did summer vacations along old 66 and what’s now I-10. I remember the old “Desert Water Bags” hanging on the grille of the family station wagon. Past Desert Center (where the first flying saucer cult started) with its patterns of palm trees, then another stretch of featureless desert to Blythe and across the river to Arizona. After that, nothing except uninhabited desert until Phoenix.

    Now if you want to flash back to those formative years in the Mojave (AKA “High Desert” as it’s actually an inland plateau), have you heard of a YouTube channel called “Mojave Mysteries”? Guy tells all these little-known/obscure/weird anecdote stories of the Mojave at .


  11. There’s an unincorporated community in Michigan called Hell. Seriously. It’s about 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor. Google it for more information.

    If this post doesn’t get stuck in moderation, the link to the community’s website sure will so I won’t link it here.


  12. Call your friendly local Republican Senator and ask them why they haven’t passed coronavirus another stimulus and relief package.

    I was hoping to keep this from becoming a political discussion, but Senate Republicans tried to pass a bill in September. Senate Democrats blocked the vote. I wish it could have passed so that the House and Senate could have negotiated a compromise before the election. By the way, both of my state’s U.S. senators are Democrats.

    Considering it appears we’ll have another divided Congress come January, especially when taking some of Raphael Warnock’s more radical statements into account, one has to hope and pray members of Congress will finally relearn the art of compromise. The same goes for whoever occupies the White House. I guess we shall see.


  13. Not sure if my comment will see the light of day, but if not…

    In Polk county in northwestern Minnesota, there are these towns…


    This one writes itself…..


  14. I used to live in Minnesota, and have been through Lindstrom a number of times, but I don’t recall seeing the Coffee pot water tower, but my wife said she vaguely remembers seeing it.

    Bemidji, Minnesota has large statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox on display.

    The Worlds Largest Ball of Twine used to be in Minnesota.

    Lastly, and not for the youngsters here…

    Possibly an urban legend, but nevertheless has a mention on Wikipedia, a local newspaper ran a story with the headline…

    “Fertile woman dies in Climax”….

    (Both are towns in Polk county in northwestern Minnesota).


  15. I’ve got Irish relatives that serve, very stereotypically, a shot of Irish Whiskey the moment you walk in the door; even if it’s 8:00 in the morning. Maybe that only do that for the Yanks that have crossed an ocean to get there. I never asked I just drank my whiskey.


  16. * And I just got some tragic news from my PA contacts. Roadside America in Shartlesville (along I-78 between Harrisburg and Allentown) is no more.

    No worries, you still have the San Diego Railroad Museum at over three time the size!


  17. When I was growing up coffee was always served by my Italian family when visitors came, or by other parts of the family when we visited them, even in the evenings. Time of day or year made no difference; apparently, Italians love their coffee too.


  18. can’t forget Lindstom MN !!!

    them Swedish Lutherans LOVE their coffee 🙂

    ‘specially in cold MN in the wintertime or ANYTIME they gather together


  19. When I was still in my first decade of childhood in the 1960s, I would’ve loved having one of those Atomic Energy Lab toy kits. I was fascinated with all things nuclear: nuclear weapons, nuclear power, nuclear engines, science fiction movies about nuclearized mutant heroes and antiheroes, you name it.


  20. Instead of saving big businesses, the last coronavirus stimulus and relief should’ve been spent on helping individuals to stay home and continue to have income. Restaurants and bars should’ve been completely shut down. Money going to individuals and families in need would’ve gone directly back into the economy; as it is, you can bet that lots of the money that went to big businesses went into the stock market, one of the reasons we have a booming stock market yet enormous numbers of people out of work. Of course, all of these efforts would’ve been significantly eviscerated by the lack of a national healthcare system covering everyone in or out of work; that’s an Achilles heel for America in a pandemic — though we have more than one of those heels.


  21. Actually hoping to put them out of work on January 5.

    Their craven attack on GOP officeholders Kemp and Raffensberger revealed the true colors of Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler, and lost them this Republican’s vote. Ossoff’ll be a better Republican than both of them.

    Senators Sasse, Romney, and maybe Lamar Alexander seem to be all that’s left of the GOP at this juncture.


  22. “the toll keeps rising in spite of the often draconian measures enacted over the last eight or nine months.”

    Those measures were never implemented at the geographic scope and length of time necessary to actually keep the numbers down. And even that wouldn’t have been as necessary if people would just wear masks.

    “Finally, what about those who will have a much less than joyous holiday season thanks to being out of work? ”

    Call your friendly local Republican Senator and ask them why they haven’t passed coronavirus another stimulus and relief package.


  23. I-10 from Los Angeles to Phoenix is even worse in the summer. It dips down below sea level in the Coachella Valley, followed by a 20 mile stretch to the Chiriaco Summit, about 1,700 feet above sea level. Doing this in the summer is a test of your car’s cooling system. Pro trick: If the temperature gauge starts pushing toward the red, turn on your heater and blast it at high fan. It acts as a secondary cooling system. Fortunately, Caltrans has helpfully place concrete barrels of water about every mile: for the radiators, not the humans. Once you reach the summit you are almost to Desert Center. It is every bit as charming as that sounds, but it does have the George S. Patton museum. Stretch your legs there, and use the bathroom.

    I spent many of my formative years in the Mojave. One tic I eventually grew out of was routinely keeping a couple of gallons of water in the trunk. That is just common sense out there. Years after I had moved to Pennsylvania my uncle had occasion to go into my trunk and asked if my car had coolant problems. No, why did you ask? He pointed out that keeping water in the trunk isn’t really necessary in the suburbs of Philadelphia, so I stopped doing it. But I cringed when I took it out.


  24. The health care workers here in Georgia are exhausted. You can’t mint RNs and medical technicians like you can masks and gloves. The people we had when this started are the ones we have now, and they are at their limit. Eventually, they won’t be worth a damn, and then “dying time’s here”.

    What make it even worse is that, even despite the neglect of our state and county leaders, Georgia has gotten off relatively easy. Add to that the mortality rate/hospitalization rate is low, there is no rhyme or reason to the severity of symptoms, and people are treating the virus in a very carefree fashion. Anecdotally, for every severe case that gets reported in the papers, there’s another one who had the sniffles for three days and got better. Age doesn’t seem to matter, nor preexisting conditions.

    Nobody here is in favor of a total lockdown. People are getting antsy living off of government largess, all of which is due to stop in December. The only thing keeping some people off the streets is the fact that the courts are as overwhelmed as the hospitals. Somehow the banks and property management companies can always find someone to file their suits, although to their credit, the courts and the local enforcement people are making them last priority.


  25. I spent Thanksgiving Day alone. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy it one bit. Then again, traveling longer than a day trip would have been out of the question since yesterday was a regular work day for me. I need to save what remains of my paid time off for a scheduled medical procedure next month which will require 2-3 days out of work.

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but I think we need to reevaluate the strategy of continued shutdowns and restrictions. I keep hearing and reading about the toll COVID is taking on the population and the health care system. Yes, we need to take that seriously. However, the toll keeps rising in spite of the often draconian measures enacted over the last eight or nine months. Have we made the right trade-offs? It’s also time we quantify the toll continued shutdowns and resulting isolation are taking on people’s mental health.

    Finally, what about those who will have a much less than joyous holiday season thanks to being out of work? I expect food banks and relief programs will experience their most robust holiday season demand since the Great Recession. Those are some things to think about now that Advent is about to begin on the heels of the longest Lenten season I’ve ever experienced.


  26. my dear husband, God rest him, had a favorite meal when he was ill: ‘potato soup’

    it was made by his mother from an onion, a few potatoes, water, and salt and pepper – that’s it

    it was all she had many times when she was a girl, so she knew what worked to make good out of ‘little’

    when my husband lived, we were not unable to afford good food at any point, but there were still times, when he had a cold, or wasn’t up to par, when he asked for that Pennsylvania steel town comfort food: homemade ‘potato soup’ like his mom made for him – one onion, peeled and sliced, several potatoes, peeled and sliced THIN, salt and pepper, water, and love, lots of love – IF my mother-in-law had it, she would peel and grate a small carrot into the soup –

    my husband liked that 🙂


  27. It’s a miracle if the staff let you in to see her, Numo. Am praying for you both. Being ‘with’ when a loved one is ill is one thing; being ‘with’ a loved one when they are ‘declining’, that is a holy thing. It stays with us, that time together, long afterward, and it returns to us when we have need of God’s comfort ourselves. I don’t know how this works, but I know it’s true.

    Will continue to pray vigil.


  28. For those who missed it,,she tested + for COVID 3 days ago.

    This disease wastes no time with the most vulnerable.


  29. Our kids clambered around these dinosaurs when they were little and we had to drive out that way to visit relatives:

    The worst thing about Spam is not the pork – it’s everything else they put in it… And occasionally I indulge my guilty pleasure with fried Spam and potatoes.

    I like the Peaceable Kingdom. It’s nice when the dogs and cats get along.



  30. Hospitals are already renting freezer space and refrigerated trailers.

    Remember when Christians were gushing about how COVID would kill off all those LIbtards in the Blue States while spariing the Faithful in the Red States? And the official policy of letting it rage to kill off the Blue States to cinch Trump’s re-election?

    Official policy besides “EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!!!”, that is.


  31. And the CHRISTIANS(TM) sure haven’t helped matters, being in the forefront of Anti-Vaxx, Anti-Mask, and COVID Denial.



  32. I’d like to see another Foamhenge as the henge looked in its prime instead of its present ruin.


  33. * Seligman… Now THAT’s a small town. One of those railroad towns on the Santa Fe, then part of Route 66. I don’t think I ever stopped there; the last two times I went across North AZ, it was to Williams and Flagstaff.
    * The Baker Thermometer… THAT is the ONLY landmark on I-15 between Barstow and the Stateline Casinos. You do NOT want to drive that route in summer. (You can always tell where the Nevada state line is on any major highway; the highrise casinos are built right up to the border.)
    * And I just got some tragic news from my PA contacts. Roadside America in Shartlesville (along I-78 between Harrisburg and Allentown) is no more. Permanently closed after 74 years as a roadside attraction which even loaned its name to whole encyclopedias of roadside attractions. Combination of “It’s NOT Social Media so It Cannot Exist” and the COVID lockdown.

    For video tours of surviving roadside attractions, check out the YouTube channels “The Carpetbagger”, “Adam the Woo”, and “The Daily Woo”:

    One from The Carpetbaggger that really intrigues me is Meow Wolf’s “The House of Infinite Return” in Santa Fe NM. Sort of a surreal maze with a mystery story background. Anyone else heard of it?


  34. M3dical systems already *are* overstretched. PA reported a 2-day total of over 16,000 new cases yesterday. Hospitals are at capacity.

    And my mom is beginning to decline. I am planning to go in a bit later. Due to a knee injury this past January + quarantine at the nursing home, i haven’t seen my mom for close to a year. By the time i was just mobile enough to get in there, lockdown started.

    It’s not an easy decision, this one, since she’s on a COVID ward (obviously).


  35. What’s different from last Spring is that the medical systems in innumerable places around the country will be overstretched all at the same time, preventing transfer of resources from low COVID case areas to ones that are having severe outbreaks. The resultant death from inability to provide care will dwarf what we experienced last Spring. Expect MASH level triage.


  36. I remember here in Massachusetts when we’d had fewer than 2,000 deaths and the IHME model was predicting 8,000+, and I thought, “there’s no way that can be correct.” And then week after week, month after month the deaths kept piling up, because once you’re at a high infection rate it takes forever to bring it back down again. (We’re now over 10k.)

    The same pattern has played out in other parts of the country, too: once people start to take the virus seriously the infection rates level off, but the number of deaths is still going to at least quadruple before you get the virus under control. The vaccines might help a little bit with that, but not in time to make a difference in January.

    I really think we should start categorizing covid-19 as a “death of despair,” because it would be entirely preventable if communities didn’t give in to fatalism or to macho culture…


  37. Part of the problem has been bad leadership. The other part is that something approaching half of the U.S. populace are either COVID deniers or skeptics, to one degree or another. The reckless behavior of so many Americans with respect to this pandemic has resulted and will continue to result in massive, unnecessary casualties. The worst is ahead of us. Unlike last Spring, when there were relatively few COVID hot spots, and medical resources and personnel could be shifted from places they weren’t needed to places they were, now the entire country is riddled with surges in COVID cases and hospitalizations; shifting resources and personnel is no longer an option, as the healthcare system is stretched to the breaking point in many places throughout the country. The resultant death from those overstretched medical capacities will make the Spring look like a walk in the park. Yet many people lead their lives as if nothing has changed from last year. Even in Europe, people are being outspokenly reckless, including celebrities — I just read that Van Morrison and Eric Clapton are releasing and anti-lockdown song together.


  38. That’s right! The encounter with the monolith in the film is directly linked to the development of weapons, and the development of the Military Industrial Complex that led to space exploration. Good point, Tom. I suppose that Star Child will grow up to be Genghis Khan.


  39. Experts say there will be a lull in the reported COVID numbers in the next week or so, due to the fact that many states have not reported statistics over the Thanksgiving holiday. It will likely fuel the false narrative of COVID skeptics that the disease is “just the flu,” and lack of masks and social distancing do not cause greater spread. About the middle of next month is when we will see an enormous explosion in numbers of cases and deaths, just in time for Merry Christmas. And the first month of the New Year will be one we will all want to forget.


  40. I was in Intercourse as a youngin’. Dad was restoring a 1918 Stanley Steamer and need wood felloes. Found them at an Amish carriage manufacturing shop. This was around 64-65.


  41. Been to Intercourse. In fact it’s less than ten miles from where I live. Interesting history, but also a tourist trap, and I should know since we were some of those tourists when my wife and I visited.


  42. The human race, and particularly the U.S., need that metal monolith right now; we are overdue for our next step in evolution, and are actually in process of devolving. At this rate, we’ll never make to the Star Child stage.


  43. As I constantly told my daughters when they first began driving…when you find yourself in a difficult situation keep your hands on the wheel, easy on the gas and brakes, and KEEP DRIVING! There will be time later to flap your hands around and scream.


  44. At one time I had four indoor cats.
    Imagine the mayhem.
    Vanessa is sleeping between my feet and purring.
    She and I have an amazing connection..
    It has just rained on my washing outside and she couldn’t care one tiny bit!


  45. “Do not allow moose to lick your car.” The reasoning is sound but no further instructions are offered on how to stop a 1,500 lb. moose from licking that wishes to.


  46. Susan, we love our two cats Garrett and Daffodil. However, Garrett despises Daffi who is fascinated by Garrett. At the moment Mr G is running fast trying to shake Daffi off his tail.


  47. Can I fit my very over weight cat Vanessa into this picture?.
    So long as you offer her treats and a lap in to which to snuggle
    she is yours
    God makes a special room for our furred loved ones
    Otherwise I will have words to who ever is i charge in Heaven!
    She sends us her purrs as I type, She is one of us.
    May she and us be blessed by our creator.



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