Tuesday, September 27, 2011

American Gods and Roadside Attractions Tour: Who the F**k Shoots the Statue of Liberty?!

That first night, pumped up on excitement and road trip adrenalin, we drove nearly straight through 6 1/2 hours to the US Center Motel in Smith Center, KS located conveniently on US Highway 36. We stopped once to pee and load up on drinks at the only place open we saw. Previously, we'd stopped to stretch and eat a hard boiled egg outside the closed Cope, CO general store and to take pictures of a dry creek bed, the sunset, and the stars (which we couldn't get because of the brightness of the near full moon).

Somewhere on US 36 in NE Colorado
Otherwise, 6 1/2 hours. Straight through.

We pulled into the drive of the US Center Motel just past midnight central time. I hated to ring the bell for night service but I'd warned the proprietor when I'd made the reservation we'd be arriving this late. He was still up waiting for us.

Our room, small, clean, and serviceable for a few hours was peppered with "Do Not" signs...none of which said, "Do not disturb". Mostly, they warned us not to smoke and, most importantly, not to use the bath towels for makeup removal, car windows, or greasy hands.

In fact, just in case we weren't at all clear on this towel rule, I found, tucked away in the desk drawer, a letter written to the motel guests from "The Rag". (original grammatical errors included)

I am nothing, but a pile of old rags. Living a life forlorn. I am old, tattered, torn, but clean. Butwait! I can still be put to work, if you dear guests would give me a break, use me for HEAVENS SAKE. Clean your shoes, wipe your windshield or car. I am tattered, but clean and ready to be used in place of a "FLUFFY TOWEL". Come the morn and your windshield is wet with dew and grimy with road dirt-use me instead of a good towel. When I amgrimy and beyond your use, throw me on the floor to be cleaned and used again.
     The Rag

No, I'm not shitting you.

Friday morning dawned. We weren't in any hurry to leave town, our eyes still adjusting to road trip vision, our minds becoming open to the possibilities of what we might see if we paid close enough attention. It was thus that we discovered, as we drove down Main Street, The Curiosity Shop - a little second-hand, flea market type place.

The Curiosity Shop, it would seem based on overheard conversations, was owned by the town gossip. She even had a little nook in the back set up for coffee klatchs and made mention of the next one to a woman who'd stopped in to get the news. When she greeted us, she said, "How are you ladies this morning?"

Acr0nym's face at that moment? Priceless.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "I'm sorry! It's just that we have so many bald women in town [Bald women with goatees? Acr0nym mumbled under his breath]. We have an unusually large number of breast cancer patients in and around these parts."

This peaked my interest. So I asked her about it. It was, in her firm opinion, due to the pesticides and chemicals used on farms that had seeped into their ground water...their everyday drinking water. This seemed reasonable (although I've not had time to research it) and it dawned on me that I, in fact, had drunk a big old glass of said tap water the night before in the motel. And I vowed I'd not be partaking of anymore rural American tap water the remainder of the trip.

After poking our noses a bit through the store (I didn't dare take a picture of the 1940's era decorative platter depicting the "negroes" in a blatantly racist way...oh but I wanted to, Readers, I most assuredly did) and getting a recommendation for food, we hit the road and headed toward our first Roadside Attraction - The Mini Statue of Liberty 8 miles south of Smith Center on US 281.

Now, it SHOULD have looked like this (minus the strange man)...

Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Pretty cool, right?

But what it actually looked like was this...

See something missing? If you look closely though, you can see Hans Gothwökkit
Feeling discouraged that our first attempt at roadside attraction goodness had been thwarted, we got back in the Intrepid (not a Dodge Intrepid, mind you. The Intrepid is what we call Acr0's wheels) and headed back toward town and the huge yard sale/flea market we'd spied just on the outskirts.

Stopping to poke around in those secondhand goods (I scored a never-been-used three-piece springform pan set and a fabulous mid-century ashtray set all for $10), we asked the proprietor about the whereabouts of the mini Lady Liberty.

"Well now," he said. "Someone done shot her. So she's in gettin' repaired. And then some fool come along and stole the brass marker plaques for scrap."

Acr0 and I looked at each other. We didn't say much then, just did our shopping, and paid the bill.

But the moment we got back in the car, we looked at each other again and he said, "Who the fuck shoots the Statue of Liberty?!"


That would become an odd, random exclamation from one or the other of us during the rest of the trip.

But really? Who DOES shoot the Statue of Liberty? Who?

Tell me. I'd like to know. Because when I set off to look for America and the first thing I find is a shot up Statue of Liberty? I kinda start to lose hope for this nation. Kinda...but it got better.

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