Friday, April 7, 2017

A Muster of Muffler Men

On Sunday I drove to Berkeley Springs, to stock up with their delicious spring water, useful info here. I would be drinking from the same spring that George Washington had long ago loved to bathe in. My first time at filling up, I was curious, wondering if I would be too embarrassed to take my containers if I was the only one there. But it was quite busy, people walking back and forth with 1 gallon plastic bottles, like me, or wheeling in larger containers. This water tasted better than anything you'll find on a shelf, and filling up your own bottles means it's free. The farmers' market was also busy so I strolled over and grabbed an organic chicken burrito for lunch.
On the way home, I'd decided to explore some of the back roads, and was pleased to see that as soon as I veered off from Rte 522 almost immediately I passed a line of bible bashing placards lined up along by the river. If this was how my afternoon of quirky delights was going to progress then I was going to be happy. Then sure enough, just a few miles down the road I saw this...
I parked my car off the road and grabbed my camera, walking forward to see these huge garden ornaments better. There was no one at home, I knocked on the door, and was standing on the driveway wondering if I should chance getting shot as a trespasser when a neighbor from up the hill drove by, informed me that he worked for them, and that it was fine to walk in and look at the figures. Not needing to be told twice, I marched ahead, pulling the lens cap off the Sony.
 Ranger Smith and Cindy Bear, originally both from Jellystone Park, MI., welcome passing people from the front of the house.
I just stood marveling at these humungous effigies before I took any photos. And as I stood looking about I saw the field next door was full of llamas and alpacas, also standing still, and all staring at me. For now I ignored them, focusing on these marvelous giants above me.
I did some research when I got home and discovered that this Land of Giants belonged to George and Pam Farnham. George had once worked as a lawyer in DC but in the 1980's he escaped to come here, with Pam joining him later from New York. They had a few larger than life garden ornaments but when they discovered that there were plans for a housing estate to be built across the road, they created a collection of outhouses, sporting a slogan, "If over-development sucks your well dry, you'll need one of these." That was back in 2006 and there's still no new houses on that land!
 Surfer Dude at 26ft is called Brian, after the Beach Boys Brian Wilson. Obtained in 2005 he's had a paint job since the photo shown on Roadside America. I like his flamingo shorts much better.
Muffler Man at 21ft, was a gift from Pam for George's 50th birthday. George had originally wanted a huge dinosaur after visiting Dinosaur Land in White Post, but Pam couldn't find one of those. I spotted a bird busily building a nest in his crown, quite a magnificent view from up there. Roadside America have also created an impressive list of Muffler Men in the USA.
This 1963 Unigal 17ft giantess was one that George had been searching for. Rarer than many of her peers, she came from Mississippi, originally wearing a skirt and jacket, covering up her bikini in her more reserved former home. These were removed on arrival to WV in 2008 and now she proudly sports her biker tattoos and bright purple swimwear. Only about 100 were ever made and George reported that he thought there were only 11 now left.
This 23ft cashier was from Big John Grocery Stores, IL
A 21ft high Paul Bunyon but minus his axe, which George and Pam are looking for.
I couldn't find out where the bird came from but recognized Bruce the Shark from Finding Nemo as he glared into the pond, carefully holding a fragile birds nest in his sharp teeth.
There's even a roller coaster in the yard with The Simpsons enjoying the ride along with clowns. A small shed which I assumed was the power house was beautifully painted in a Christmas theme. The front yard was also home to an impressive collection of garden ornaments, cement statues of mermaids, gargoyles, lions and dogs. I didn't hang around too long, I felt a little uncomfortable walking about the yard of people who weren't at home, despite having been given permission.
Still staring, the llamas and alpacas posed for a photo but had no intention of leaving their hay to come over for a cuddle.
A 19ft Santa Claus greets or waves farewell to folks as they pass, with larger than life Christmas ornaments hanging from the trees. Not pictured are 2 large apples from the 2005 Winchester Apple Blossom Festival,  Also not pictured is a 22ft pink flamingo, something that George is still looking for as a gift to Pam, an eagle with a 12ft wingspan and a pterodactyl flying next to it. With these lawn ornaments running into thousands of dollars, George and Pam have quite an impressive collection. I've never seen anything like this before, and apparently there's very few cars that will pass by the first time without stopping. I'm betting this fibreglass and cement family will add to their members, warranting another visit in the future.There's no zoning laws in WV so the sky is their limit. Literally.

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