Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Santa Claus, Arizona

There are a number of Santa or Christmas theme tourist attractions across the country. Many of them are located near mountains (I'm thinking of North Pole, Colorado near Colorado Springs and Santa's Land near the Smokies) and many were found along old US Highways where, in decades past, thousands of travelers would be pestered by their kids to stop.

A few years back, Jessica and I were heading back to Vegas from a road trip through the desert and we passed by Santa Claus, Arizona along US Highway 93.  The site of this abandoned tourist attraction compelled me to do a u-turn to check it out.  The main building is still visible and apparently it was once home to a restaurant, motel and a place where kids could mail letters to Santa. There are also the remains of an old Santa's train out front as well. It is now covered in weeds and there is graffiti everywhere.

Arizona Highways Magazine did a brief history of the attraction on their site recently. It's worth checking out if you've ever passed by this place in between Kingman and Las Vegas, or if you're simply interested in this sort of Christmas-themed tourist attraction from the past.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Old Car City USA

There's no doubt that man has made an impact on the natural environment, but sometimes I like to think about nature fighting back.  And at Old Car City USA, the Georgia Pines are fighting like hell.

A few months ago, Brian heard about Old Car City USA through a photography class and as fate would have it, I saw an online article about it around that same time. Located in White, Georgia, Old Car City USA purports to be the oldest known junkyard in the US, dating back to the 1930s. It's 35 acres (or 6 miles of trails) of historic American cars slowly returning to the Earth. No longer a functioning junkyard, Old Car City USA is now a photographer's dream.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we drove down to Atlanta to visit family and made a side trip up to Old Car City USA.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I knew this was going to be an awesome experience based on the marriage of art, history, and engineering all in one place. We walk in to the main garage covered in spray painted phrases and are immediately greeted by the owner. Brian pays the $25 fee to take photos while Ben and I pay the $15 to just look around.

We exit the garage and it was like stepping into a rusted wonderland full of cars that you've seen in movies and in books, but never in person.  Hudsons, Plymouths, Chevrolets....you name it.  Some were in decent enough shape that you could look inside and see the old gas pedals, radios, speedometers, and metal door locks, but most were covered in pine needles with trees growing through them.

Our three year old son, Ben, was in awe.  He would run from car to car shouting "Look at this Old Car!"  "Mama- come look inside this one!"  At one point he found a headlight on the ground and you would have thought he found a treasure chest full of gold.

Since Ben was with us, we didn't get to fully explore the property, but I foresee future expeditions to Old Car City USA.  In addition to acres of old cars, there is also a good smattering of old bikes, dolls, car parts, and other junk.  The upstairs part of the garage has a "doodle room" full of shelf after shelf of styrofoam cups colored in various patterns with black or blue pen.  It's oddly beautiful.

While I'm happy to report that nature is winning the battle, I hope that Old Car City USA stays around a while.  I'm not through exploring its treasures.

Old Car City USA is located in White, GA just northwest of Atlanta. It's an easy trip off I-75 to reach it. For hours and additional information, check out their website here.

Click here to see more photos from this amazing place.