roadside attractions

Road Trip: Ellensburg, Washington

Far off adventures don’t really need to be that far away from home.

Our road trip team spent the afternoon in Ellensburg, WA, just about two hours from Stuck at The Airport headquarters in Seattle. And while we didn’t get to do everything on our list, we revisited two favorite places with fresh, post-pandemic (we hope) eyes.

Dick and Jane’s Spot

We’ve pulled off the highway numerous times over the years just to see Dick and Jane’s Spot, across from the police station at 1st and Pearl St., and it always delights us.

The art-filled yard of artists Jane Orelman and Dick Elliott (now deceased) has changed a wee bit over the years, but it’s still ” dedicated to the philosophy of ‘one hearty laugh is worth ten trips to the doctor.’

Kittitas County Historical Museum

Some people skip the historical museums when they visit small towns. We start there. And the Kittitas County Historical Museum is one of our all-time favorites, with exhibits on everything from antique cars, and the famed Ellensburg Blue Agate, to medical and military history, and a hallway filled with neon signs rescued from long-gone local establishments.

Bonus: Double rainbow spotted from the hotel parking lot

Nice to end the day with a double rainbow,

Museum Monday: World’s Largest Cast Iron Skillet

Stuck at the Airport’s correspondent for Museums and Roadside Attractions is planning a summer trip to South Pittsburg, Tennessee for the planned opening of the Lodge Cast Iron Museum.

We’re already intrigued to learn that South Pittsburg, TN has been home to Lodge Cast Iron since 1896. And we’re looking forward to seeing rare cast-iron collections and exhibits about the history of the company, the “making of” cast iron items, and an exploration of ‘Cast Iron Culture.’

Mostly, though, we’re looking forward to seeing the World’s Largest Cast Iron Skillet.

The skillet measures over 18 feet from handle to handle and weighs in at a whopping 14,360 pounds.

World’s Largest Frying Pan

While Lodge Cast Iron may currently lay claim to the World’s Largest Cast Iron Skillet, there have been some contenders over time.

Our favorite is the giant frying pan in Long Beach, Washington.

Created in 1941 for the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. A pan claiming to be the largest frying pan in America was used in the annual Clam Festival in Long Beach during the 1940s.

Courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections

According to Pacific County Tourism Bureau, the giant frying pan was created in Portland, Oregon in 1941 to help promote the first annual Clam Festival.

At that time, the pan weighed in at 1,300 pounds and was 10-feet wide and 20 feet tall.

Back then, this was a working pan. During the clam festival, the pan was used to make a clam fritter out of 200 pounds of clams. The creation required two garden hoes and 4 two-foot X two-foot spatulas. The following year, 20,000 people showed up to eat a giant 9-foot clam fritter.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try it at home:

Chef Wellington W. Marsh’s Giant Fritter Recipe

  • 200 pounds of clams
  • 20 dozen eggs
  • 20 pounds of flour
  • 20 pounds of cracker meal
  • 20 pounds of cornmeal
  • 10 gallons of milk
  • 13 gallons of salad oil

The giant frying pan became a tourist attraction. It went on tour throughout the Pacific Northwest and made an appearance in Los Angeles in 1952.

For a long time, the pan hung outside Marsh’s Free Museum in Long Beach (home of Jake, the Alligator Man), but it rusted over the years. Today only the pan’s original handle remains, and the pan’s replacement is made of fiberglass.

The (Not So) Impossible Road Trip

Icy snow is covering our town. So we spent the holiday weekend just dreaming of places we want to go and making a list of new and old favorite sights we want to see in the new year.

The Impossible Road Trip – An Unforgettable Journey to Past and Present Roadside Attractions in all 50 States” turns out to be a great aid to our adventure planning

When the book by Eric Dregni first showed up at our house, we thought the “impossible” in the title meant the book was all about historic roadside attractions and quirky destinations across the United States we’d never get to see.

But now that we look closer, we see that the long-gone spots mentioned here simply offer context for all the corny, quirky, and unique places that are still around.

Like the Big Duck in Flanders, NY. The World’s Largest Buffalo Monument in Jamestown, North Dakota. The Cardiff Giant in Cooperstown, NY, And many places across the country where you can spot statues of dinosaurs, muffler men, and Paul Bunyans

Here’s a look inside the book, which includes infographic maps, themed roundups, and some wonderful photographs taken by the late architectural critic and photographer John Margolies.

We checked to see if some of our favorite attractions in Washington were included and were pleased to the Zillah’s Teapot Dome Gas Station and Seattle’s Hat ‘n’ Boots included. (These photos are not from the book).

Courtesy VIsit Yakima

Pull over for these really big things

Who can resist pulling off the highway when a “World’s Largest…” sign appears?

Not me. And you shouldn’t either. Because these really big things I found for a recent round-up on World’s Largest  things are really great.

Here’s a sampling:

Vulcan, Birmingham Alabama’s colossal statue is the world’s largest cast iron statue.

Albert, the World’s Largest Bull (45 tons, 30 feet tall), in Audubon, Iowa

The Land of 10,000 Lakes is home to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine made by one man. It’s 13 feet in diameter and more than 17,400 pounds.

At the City Museum in St. Louis: a 7 foot tall pair of underpants!

In Huron, South Dakota, the state’s official bird is honored with a 22-foot-tall, 22-ton fiberglass fowl that is World’s Largest Pheasant