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Weekends with a twist of wacky



I was all-too-familiar with my son’s look of skeptical doubt, presented in tandem with a raised eyebrow. However, this one was followed by, “We’re going to see a 20-foot tall what?!” I was trying to sell this prematurely jaded traveler on an old-fashioned road trip to see the sights. To make it interesting, I assured him we would focus on funky things you don’t see everyday. Like the 20-foot tall Paul Bunyan statue in Stony Point. 

“Uh-HUH…,” he replied with all the sarcasm an eight-year old can muster. “Can I bring my DS for the ride?” Turns out, he never even turned on his hand-held video game.  He actually admitted having a good time seeing some “cool stuff.”

The Hudson Valley is home to several offbeat sites with a high quirk quotient, perfectly suited for an affordable, quick road trip. Defy convention and take off on an adventure covering local roads, and check out these under-the-radar gems. 

Larger-than-life statues are an amusingly deceptive type of architecture. I had heard the story of the Paul Bunyan “Muffler Man” statues, and was happy to find one in Stony Point in Rockland County, on the grounds of the Boy Scout’s Camp Bullowa.

Thousands of these giant fiberglass statues were produced in the 60’s and 70’s from one 20-foot tall mold. Retail businesses bought them and displayed them to attract customers. Spotting the remaining “MM’s” has become a sport; field reports are posted to www.roadsideamerica.com. There are more of them across New York; in Bethel, Lake George, and Liverpool.

Seeing Paul in all his lumberjack glory – he is in relatively good condition compared to many others—was enough of a thrill for me to call it a day, but we continued on to the kid-friendly Hogan’s Diner three miles away. A third-generation family business, this is a place where kids don’t just get a placemat to color on, they get an entire coloring book.

From there, we headed ten minutes north to Bear Mountain State Park, which reigns supreme among public parks for its unexpected amenities. The merry-go-round is reason enough to come, but there’s also a pool, peddle boats, playground, and a Trailside Museum and Wildlife Center.

Our day was capped with a drive up to Perkins Memorial lookout tower, providing wide open scenic views. The park is open every day, year-round, with varying hours for the carousel, pool, and museum. The parking fee is $7.00.

Another trip took us to Dutchess County in search of a a 31-foot tall steel fork in the road, standing in the median where routes 308 and 199 split in Red Hook. A tongue-in-cheek blending of the literal and figurative, it can be a head-turning surprise if you’re not expecting it. 

From here, you can see a huge Prozac pill made from a water tank sitting on a neighboring lawn. It induced a pharmacology-free smile from my husband, and questions from my son about the purpose of this particular medication.

Brushing these aside, we headed for Route 9/South Broadway, and had lunch at An Apple a Day Diner.  The homemade desserts here bear mention, in particular the mile-high apple pie. Not much a pie fan, our toddler enjoyed peering into the fish tank. 

A better plan would have been to schedule this trip in conjunction with a children’s show at The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. The year-round family series offers an impressive variety of shows, plays and concerts.

 

Traci L. Suppa can’t wait for her next road trip, riding shotgun in the family minivan and playing “I Spy” with her two kids. www.wordscapesny.com