Like so many of you, I was brought up not to lie. So while I’d like to say the best website in the world is mine, it’s not; it’s Roadside America. When you’re mapping out where to stop between points A and B, you’ve got to consult Roadside America. If you don’t, you’re missing a treat.
Today we’re going to North Dakota on the Enchanted Highway, a Roadside America favorite. I took the Enchanted Highway the morning after I visited the small motel I talked about in “Motels Without Ratings,” not far from Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
A Guinness Book of World Records Holder!
Here’s how you’ll get there: headed west on I-94 at Exit 72, you’re going to see on the north (right), this beautiful scrap metal sculpture called Geese in Flight. At this point, you’re looking at a Guinness Book of World Records holder for the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world. The entire world, folks!
But lest you think the fun is over with Geese in Flight, it doesn’t stop there. You’ve got six more installations to go, courtesy of former principal and high school teacher Gary Greff who took action to stop the exodus of jobs from the area.
Mr. Greff decided to bring tourism to Regent, ND by erecting roadside kitsch from scrap metal, even though he had no welding experience and wasn’t an art teacher. Mr. Greff negotiated favorable land leases from local farmers and set to his task of creating the seven sets of sculptures that make up the Enchanted Highway.
Now there’s a life lesson in that! How many of us do something about a problem in our town? Too few, for sure (myself included).
Your best vacation snapshots
It’s easy to get to the seven sculptures; they’re right alongside the road with ample parking lots. When you pile out of the car, take your camera because these will be the vacation snapshots you go back to time and again; these will make your friends and family smile. Exotic beaches, yawn; metal sculptures in North Dakota, yeah!
It starts at Exit 72 with Geese in Flight, as I’ve said, then you come to Deer Crossing, which is just what it sounds like: deer jumping over a fence.
Keep heading south to Grasshoppers in the Field. And I mean GIANT grasshoppers. 60 feet long and 40 feet tall! Are you getting a sense of proportion here? It struck me as funny to see grasshoppers celebrated in a farming region where they are pests.
Pheasants on the Prairie are made of wire mesh and in a funny coincidence, birds have built their nests inside the mesh.
Next up is Teddy Roosevelt riding a rearing horse on a hillside behind a stage coach. Keep driving and you’ll see the Tin Family, pictured above, made of farm tanks, augers, telephone poles and wire. It took me a while to figure those parts out!
The most recent addition is Fisherman’s Paradise, and it may be my favorite. It shows all manner of fish under a 70-foot tall surface pond with a fisherman dropping a line. A little boat that reminded me of The Minnow from Gilligan’s Island sits to the side; kids love climbing over it.
I had so much fun stopping and admiring the workmanship of these sculptures that I ended up, as was Gary Graff’s intention, eating lunch at Regent, which has a museum and gift shops and will eventually have a water park!
In a future episode I’ll tell you about a little pronghorn antelope that came across my way en route to Regent, but in the meantime, next time someone says there’s a problem in your community, maybe Gary Greff can inspire you to get off your duff and do something about it!