Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Enchanted Highway

OK, after this post I will only be 1 blog behind schedule. Pretty good huh? Please hold the applause until the end. Last month my family and I had the pleasant experience of traveling the Enchanted Highway. If you take Exit 72 South off Interstate 94 at Gladstone, North Dakota (20 miles East of Dickinson) and follow the road about 32 miles into the town of Regent you will have traveled this interesting piece of North Dakota landscape.

The enchanted highway consists of 7 of the "world's largest" metal sculptures erected at strategic points along the road between Gladstone and Regent. This first one, "Geese in Flight" is visible from Interstate. These pictures can only give you a taste. Only by visiting these sculptures close up can the enormity of these constructions be appreciated.

Like many people who live in close proximity to area attractions, I had never been there. I think locals tend to believe these attractions will always be there and we'll get there someday and then we never do. Also added is the fact that gas prices are not conducive to any unnecessary driving. And to be brutally honest. I had considered these to be just another cheesy tourist trap and not worth the time to experience.

I was wrong. My dad and step mom were still in town for their Summer visit and wanted to go. They had been on it before but there had been a couple sculptures added since the last time. Apparently, these monstrosities don't just appear overnight. It takes considerable effort constructing and putting them up for display. Here's another one which portrays a family of pheasants. There's a few chicks that are not pictured in the frame although you can see the head of one of them on the left.

We had a fantastic time driving, stopping, taking pictures, and visiting the whole way into Regent. I had particular fun at the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial Statue. Part of the display is a wooden stagecoach and wooden horses that you can climb all over. I've got the Roosevelt component pictured but unfortunately the photo of me posing ridiculously on the stagecoach didn't make it to my memory stick. (maybe a future blog)

Here you can see my two children (aren't they adorable?) seated on two smaller grasshoppers. Grasshopperzilla (not pictured) towers above them off to the side. This is one of the attractions that has a small play area and picnic table so you can bring a lunch and enjoy it under the huge watchful eyes of a gigantic steel bug standing guard. Speaking of kids, this is a fairly "family friendly" journey. I don't believe I heard the words, "are we done yet?" one time during this whole experience, the kids traveled very well.

Now we come to my personal favorite sculpture, the fisherman's dream. (or maybe nightmare) To get an idea of the absolute size of the big rainbow trout in the back, take a look at the fisherman sitting in the boat. (You have to see his expression to try to determine if he is happy or scared out of his wits at the size of his catch.) This is an actual by George honest-to-goodness fishing boat. Picture a fishing boat in your head and put it up against that fish and hopefully you have an idea how huge this thing is. In addition to the trout you will find several other native North Dakota fish like the Northern Pike, Catfish, and the delicious walleye. (caution, steel sculptures are not edible)

Nearing the end of the tour we have the sculpture that started it all, the tin family. Ladies and gentlemen, you will more than likely remember the tin man from "The Wizard of Oz" but here we have a whole family. What I thought was interesting was the coils of barbed wire which formed the woman's hair. I can imagine what kind of comb you would need to get that mess under control in the morning. I also got a kick out of the metal lollipop the "little" boy is enjoying.

And then you come to Regent where the last sculpture on the tour is right in the middle of the town. We had lunch at a quaint little cafe and enjoyed some delicious home-made soup and a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. (Thick, sliced ham, not the processed stuff). After lunch, we went to the shop next door and had some ice cream. I'm very partial to black licorice ice cream and the only places I've ever seen it are at the Happy Joe's in Dickinson and this gift shop in Regent. In yet another shop they have panini sandwiches and various coffee beverages. I would have liked to visit the museum. (I'm kind of a sucker for those things.) But the family wanted to head home.

If you want more information, you can visit the web site, or even better yet, come and travel the Enchanted Highway yourself. It's worth seeing.

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