The Devil Is In The Details

Finally, a day off with no chores. No groceries to shop for, no laundry to do. Just a day to go out and have some fun. The weather could have been better, the forecast called for on and off showers and cloudy skies, but that wasn’t going to deter us! After visiting one of our favorite websites, Atlas Obscura, we knew we had to take the 30 minute drive to Sparta, Wisconsin and visit FAST Corporation. FAST stands for Fiberglass Animals, Shapes and Trademarks.

We’ve all seen larger than life advertising or roadside attractions, you know, that 20′ tall strawberry at the fruit stand or the giant cow standing in front of the farm. If you are like me, you’ve probably never given a second thought to where did it come from or who made it? But, chances are, it came from FAST Corp.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I didn’t know where to look first. Acres of fiberglass molds and finished products beckoned me. As we walked around, familiar characters stared back at us under dreary skies…

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Some items where purely decorative, while others were more functional.  It’s easy to picture this hippo water fountain at the zoo, just across from the lion bench where tired parents watch as the kiddos get a drink…

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In my mind, I can hear the squeals of delight as the kiddies come down the water slide…

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As we walked passed the cows…

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The familiar shape Hard Rock Cafe guitars caught our attention…

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FAST Corporation has kept every fiberglass mold they have ever created. After being used, they are taken out back and put in the “graveyard”. Acres and acres of molds await the day they may be called for again. Who knows when someone might need a giant bear…Fast Corporation-2410

Or an elephant…

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How about an ice cream cone…

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What if Chevy needs another boulder?

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Here are some of the other neat molds we saw…

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The mold for the lion bench

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Behind one of the shops, there was a sculpture of 2 boys rough housing, I think this will be used to create the mold. It looked like it was carved out of some type of dense foam…

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There were also finished products, waiting to be shipped…

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If you are ever in Sparta, Wisconsin and find yourself on County Road Q, stop in and visit FAST Corporation! It’s a pretty neat place!

Up next, my first kayak trip on the Black River…

The Denali Hwy and an Abandon Igloo

When driving the 135 mile Denali Highway, you should not take the word highway literally.  Only 24 miles are paved and the rest is a “2 lane” gravel road. That being said – DRIVE IT! Many rental companies don’t allow you to drive the Denali highway, but some do. If yours doesn’t, there are several companies that rent Jeeps so you can get the full affect. Luckily, we have a Jeep so none of that was a concern to us. We started in Cantwell. I hadn’t really planned on driving the entire 135 miles to Paxson, but with such scenery, who could resist. There are some interesting fact about the highway here.

Almost as soon as the road turned to gravel, we came across an open field and we were treated to a view of Mt Denali in the distance…

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The scenery only got better with every mile…Denali Hwy-9471

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Breathtaking!

Most of the beautiful reds were courtesy of blueberry and cranberry bushes taking on their fall hues…

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They were SO tasty!
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Ready for picking!

It took us nearly 6 hours to drive 135 mile because I had to stop so often. I think my favorite view was the cabin on the hill…

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Doesn’t it just scream Alaska?

But the rivers and lakes come in a close second…

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Hard to contain my excitement!

What a road…

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The only bad thing was now, we had to drive back to Healy. We decided not to go back via the Denali Highway, but to go through Fairbanks instead. On the way, we saw glaciers and parts of the Alaska Pipeline…

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I was surprised how accessible the pipeline was.

Steve had planned a surprise for me on our last day in Healy. As always, he had checked Atlas Obscura when we arrived. He found the perfect place for me to get my abandon building fix, Igloo City. You know that little voice you have that says, “Don’t go in there, it isn’t safe”? Ya, I don’t have one…

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It’s only 4 stories tall, what bad could happen with no safety rails?

Apparently, Steve’s little voice was missing too…

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What a view this room would have had

 

 

Hey, look, I can see the Jeep from here…

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I was surprised how little trash and graffiti there was since it was so easy to get inside. Perhaps its remote location, half way between Anchorage and Fairbanks, keeps it off the radar for the local teenagers. But, you will always have some “art”…

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The other buildings were interesting as well…

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On the way back to Waldo, we had our final magnificant views of Mt Denali. Of course, I couldn’t resist a couple more shots…

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And so ends our Alaska adventure. It’s been great having you along to enjoy it with us. Up next, wildlife in the Yukon and British Columbia.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Out and about

As I mentioned in my last post, we are always looking for cheap (or, even better – free) things to do. One of my co-workcampers suggested we check out a website, www.Atlasobscura.com. According to their site, “Atlas Obscura catalogues the most unusual, surprising, and amazing places around the world, thanks to the discoveries shared by our intrepid community of travelers and explorers. There are now more than 11,000 incredible hidden wonders listed in the Atlas, …” We checked out the interactive map and found lots of places nearby. We plan to visit all of them, but we started in Royse City where we found this…

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Arriving at the vacant field, my first thought was the aliens had landed, then I thought maybe it was a piece of  abandoned playground equipment But having read the description, I knew it was a Futuro House. You can read all about it here. Walking through the field, I happened to notice some rather prickly looking plants…

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I don’t know what it is, but I wouldn’t want to brush against it! Having seen what we came to see, we decided to just drive around. You never know what you might come across.

If you followed my Touring NH blog, you know I love barns and farms. Most of the “farms” here are called ranches and they all seem to have one thing in common, huge front gates, announcing the name of the ranch…

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And the barns are different. Back in NH, they are usually wooden structures. Here they are mostly made of corrugated tin…

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But one thing is universal, an abandoned barn will fall eventually. I think the only thing holding up this barn is the tree in front of it…

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Fields go along with barns & farms/ranches and Texas has some lovely fields, full of beautiful flowers. The flowers seem to dominate the land, filling it with color…

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We stopped at another field and what I thought was a sea of white flowers turned out to be a tall-ish plant with bi-colored top leaves and tiny white flowers…

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I think it is called Snow-on-the-mountain.

Roadside flowers are sometimes planted to “beautify” or “naturalize” an area and Texas boasts of 19 different types of sunflowers. Regardless of the reason, stands of sunflowers have to make you smile…

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Last week, a storm moved through the area, dumping several inches of rain on us. A few days later, the newly drenched ground pushed up a surprise for me – rain lilies

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Another byproduct of the rain was mushrooms galore…

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The final gift from the storm was a sunset worth waiting for…

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Thank you for coming by!