Monday, February 18, 2013

You Never Know Who You Might Meet in the Desert

This isn't the post that relates to the VERY strange thing we found in the desert recently. I have to do a little more research because the more I do, the weirder it gets...

Although not as weird as the post I'm working on, this stuff was far from normal! We drove into Yuma just to check the town out. Yuma is a very old and I'm sure you've all seen at least a dozen Westerns that were made about this town, or the things that happened here. As we were driving around we met a couple of people that are the type you can ONLY meet in the desert.

 Meet Muffler Man
Back in the 50's and 60's these guys could be found all over the country. Besides being huge, they also had one thing in common. They all were holding an automobile muffler. They stopped making them in the mid-60's and they are becoming more rare everyday.

Instead of a muffler, these days you might see them holding various tools, candy canes, hot dogs, donuts, weapons, or nothing at all... Somewhere around here I have a photo of one holding a giant corn dog!  

Muffler Man is kind of like the giant donuts that used to be a fairly common sight on top of donut shops. Remember them? They are also becoming very rare. Everybody has heard of Route 66 and all the cool things that it represents, right?  Well, one of America's other great historic roads runs through Yuma. That road is U.S. Highway 80.  Okay, enough about Muffler Man and giant donuts. Ladies and germs, may I present....

Giant Sunglasses Man
We were on our way back to the highway spotted this image sitting in a strip-mall. 

 Check out the drawing of this big headed guy on the sign behind him.

I like the name of the shop as much as the giant head

Is it art? Certainly not in the classical sense, but it is an awesome piece of folk art.  It's going to be an amazing piece of folk art in five, ten or twenty years, when after the business shuts it's doors for the final time and this guy is left in some desert lot or somebody's front yard. Then people will see it and wonder about where it came from and how did it end up where it is then.  How do I know that? I know it because that is exactly what people do with old things in the desert. They either dump them, or just put them out in the yard. Lot's of room and not many neighbors to complain.  The desert doesn't care.  

Don't get me wrong, I love the pristine, beautiful and desolate desert. I also love the outskirts of desert towns like Yuma and the hundreds of small thirsty towns. Each of them has their own beauty, oddities and interesting characters.



  1. The head in the truck bed is just weird. You're right - people will wonder where it came from when they find it.

  2. hahaha! Some people would drive right on by and miss the fun you never seem to miss, Pat. One oddity would be enough for some small towns, but having two??? Yup, the desert is a funny place.

  3. I love quirky folk art like this. RayBans for that guy would surely cost a bundle...

  4. When I retire in a few years, my dream is to just drive around looking for this kind of oddity. Thanks for giving me a bunch of targets to put on the list.

  5. I love how you see the artistry and uniqueness of the oddities you encounter in the desert.

    Great posting Pat.
    hungry for more ~:)

  6. I do enjoy reading about the interesting, unusual, plain weird stuff that you find on your travels, Pat! Thanks for sharing!! I can already see this last head guarding someone's trash can!!

  7. I always hope to meet Mel Gibson in Thunderdome. Before he became a jerk.

  8. too funny. he'd need one heckuva hanky!

  9. He would need a huge hat to cover that head!! We used to have one of those giant cowboys around here somewhere, but I have no idea what happened to it. I'm sure it's in the desert somewhere.

  10. There's one of these giants at a BP station off route 287 in White Plains, New York. It's been there forever and has become a good reference point. Whenever you say, "Go past the tin man in White Plains," you know exactly where you're going.
    This comes in especially handy when you've been drinking.

  11. You always find the most interesting things!

  12. Folk art is really fun, but this SunGlasses dude is a bit creepy.


  13. I thought these items were pretty strange - then I got to the nuclear cannon!

    The time when it was built were strange days indeed!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS; cheers once again for the clutch of comments!

  14. oh gosh...This place is really different, I'm enjoying reading your story and thanks for the cool images!
    The advertisement is funny, they are creative with these stuffs! LOL
    I would like to wear sunglasses, but with this *&%#" bad weather here in my way! :( I'm anxious waiting for Spring!

  15. I'm hoping there is candy inside that big head. Pinata!!

  16. Haha!!! What a find!!! He is something isn't he!!! The desert is definitely the location of choice to find the eccentric!!!

  17. Look out A-Head! You are absolutely dead on when you describe the outskirts of the desert! And we feel just as you do. Thanks for sharing ... This is new (we aren't as familiar with this part of the desert as with around NIland etc., but it's the same deal!)

    You are definitely piquing my interest for your coming post.

  18. Some archaeologist will think it is a god people worshiped. I love seeing quirky things like this also.

  19. OMG! That's priceless. Love how you shot it from 3 different angles. That's the best thing I've seen all week!

  20. I really need to visit the desert someday! Your posts are filled with the coolest, craziest stuff I've ever seen - and I love it!

    Hope all is well with you and the family. I can't wait to see what you share next :)

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  22. There are many things to love in this post, and one of the best is the name of the store. Mr. Sunglasses' facial features are also stunning.

  23. I should google Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox. Those are the ones I remember from my childhood.

  24. You're right, you never know what you will find in the desert!

  25. Wow, you and your wife sure do get to visiting the most awesome of places, glad to see you're still journeying on (it's been a while since I last stopped by, hasn't it?). After he graduates this year, my eldest and a couple of his friends intend saving hard so they can "do" route 66, next year. I'm already turning grey at the prospect..!

  26. There are so many things to explore in the desert. This is one great find.

    Pat, thanks for everything. I am slowly uploading my photos from previous posts. Apparently, even if you have saved your files, the photos are left unattached (XML files).

  27. You have to coolest life, do you know that? I want to travel around one day with you and your wife...I'm sure you two could show me all kinds of crazy places!

  28. Yes, precious photos, amazing giant head ... fun.

  29. Funny.

    Folk "art" may be stretching it.

    I still love to see the giant doughnut atop the doughnut stand alone near LAX. I think it's on Florence or Manchester or the corner. Don't remember the name but I find it comforting when I visit home.

  30. There was one of those giant dude thingies (minus the gun, cuz this is Canada) at one of our favourite snack bar rest stops when I was a kid.

  31. Second try at a comment... sorry if it double posts.

    There was one of these giant dudes (minus the gun, cuz this is Canada) at one of our favourite rest areas when I was a kid.

  32. I love campy things like this!

    The truck bed dude is a new one for me, though!

  33. These are great .. I would love
    to be in a place with all the
    roadside sttractions.

  34. My husband may have made that muffler man. It's from a company in Santa Monica. They actually had several different molds for what the man held. The consistency was in the man himself. The son of one of the chief sculptors called my husband recently asking if he remembered his dad and the good things his dad had said about my husband. The company was in Santa Monica. My husband got the job after art school when he moved to Venice beach from San Francisco. He eventually got fired for trying to start a union. Funny stuff

  35. They recently closed a golf course here in LA, I believe it was off the 405, a friend told me the same thing they used to carry a muffler instead of a golf club, keep up the good work love history


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