Louise Speaks: After spending 5 days in Patagonia, it was time to head home and do laundry before our next trip. But on the way home, of course there is an attraction to see. It’s not on our Quirky list, but it is one of the Roadside America attractions, so we had to stop.
The Titan Missile Museum, is an important Atomic Tour sight. Here you will find a fully restored missile base, a relic of the Cold War. The cold war may be over but the last symbol of that episode can be seen in a missile silo 20 miles south of Tucson along Interstate 19. The silo is a hundred feet underground and much of it is open to the public. The whole visit , missile silo tour, museum, and outdoor display, can be seen in about an hour. The stairs down into the silo are steep and not suitable for small children or handicapped. Cameras are allowed.
Although this seemed very interesting, it just wasn’t something we wanted to spend an hour seeing. So we drove through the parking lot, took pictures of things on the grounds, got back in the RV and we were on our way. But, if this is something you think you might enjoy, it is very easy to find and is easy off and on the freeway.
Louise Speaks: We were heading out to an RV outing but left a couple days early so we could see a few “Quirky” things along the way. As you may know we have a master list of Quirky things from Roadside America and we have them divided by state, so as we go on trips, we try to see as many as we can along the way. This museum was so cool, I don’t even see why it made the list. Well the list is actually called roadside attractions, so I guess it would fall into that category.
Getting to the museum is a bit challenging as it is about 35miles off the I-10 as you head towards Tucson, but it it definitely worth the detour. This museum is actually a garage on the family property so they do have assigned hours. With it being Sunday and so far off the freeway, we were surprised to see about 15 people here looking at the cars.
Now this is called a Dwarf Car Museum. I hope you can tell the size of these cars (see thecars compared to people)….and they are ALL drive-able. Ernie Adams, the owner, designer and manufacturer makes all the cars and then enters them in car shows. By the looks of his trophy room, he has won many MANY times. Ernie, has made a name for himself building Dwarf Race Cars and scaled down replicas of classic cars called Dwarf Car Cruisers. These handmade works of art now have a home in Maricopa, Arizona.
Ernie had a fascination with cars starting back in grade school. He would admire the cars of the time, drew them for school assignments and even built a wooden car out of a crate box with steering wheel and peanut butter jar lids for taillights. His mother would pull him by a rope through out his hometown of Harvard, Nebraska.
The first Dwarf Car came to life in 1965 as a 28 Chevy two-door sedan made out of nine old refrigerators. Ernie began gathering the materials for this little car in 1962. By 1965 he had enough materials and an 18 hp Wisconsin motor to begin construction. With a homemade hacksaw made from a chair frame, hammer and a chisel, Ernie began construction. He had no idea what this would be the beginning of.Because this is the first Dwarf Car ever built, it is known as “GRANDPA DWARF.” This first Dwarf Car is kept in running order and is still driven today. It is on display in the museum, back by the cash register.
The first two Dwarf Race Cars were built in Dec. 1979 and early 1980. The Dwarf Race Car idea came about after Ernie and his friend Daren had attended a motorcycle side hack race in Phoenix. During the drive home, Ernie expressed concern that three-wheeled racers were to slow in the corners. He said they could improve considerably by adding a fourth wheel to help thru the corners. Ernie suggested that adding a car body would also help spectator appeal. A new project and Ernie entered a car in the first Dwarf Car race that took place at the Yavapai County Fair in Prescott, my home town, in September, 1983. There were 12 cars in the race. Ernie continued to be creative when he made a matching Dwarf boat to go with one of the cars.
After leaving the Dwarf Car racing phase, Ernie had learned a lot about bending and shaping metal. He loved to see heads turn in admiration of the Dwarf Race Cars while being towed down the highway. Ernie knew it was time to change and put his metal shaping skills to the test. Now he wanted a fully dressed Dwarf Car with fenders, chrome, finished interior and most of all street legal and the Dwarf Car Cruiser was born.
While we were in the museum admiring the cars, Ernie is out back working. He works on these cars every day, except for his family vacation time. We were told that it takes Ernie about 5 years to build a car and he has about $5,000 invested in every car he builds. He does not put a value on his cars and has no intention of selling any of them so there is no need to give them a price tag. As a crowd was gathering around the front car, Ernie stepped inside and started the car up. For kicks he even reved the engine for us to hear that race car sound.
Like I said earlier, this is a bit out of the way, but it is definitely worth the trip. There is no charge to view the cars, the grounds or the museum but donations are gladly accepted as this money will help build a new car. On the grounds there are old tractors, old cars and bicycles and
other “old” stuff. Ernie’s work area is decorated with old license plates from many, many places. I guess cars and “stuff” run in his blood. Ernie is still living in the past. He calls the restrooms “Rustrooms” and he has the rustroom ceiling tiled with old 33 rpm records. I’m sure any young folds visiting won’t even know what those black vinyl circles are…but it brought back memories to me.
The Dwarf Car Museum gets an A+ rating. I tell everyone about this place and can’t wait to have someone ask where it is so I can say “lets go, I’ll show you!”
Louise Speaks: We are trying to finish the state of Arizona, since it is the state we live in. In doing so we found there were a few things in Prescott…the town that we live in that we still had not blogged about. Now when we go see sites it is all to put in our Shutterfly books or to scrapbook, so it is very important to take pictures of all the sites. If a site is worthy of a visit and a picture, and if it’s going to go in our scrapbook then it deserves to be mentioned on the blog. We might be stretching it with the sites we visited today, but we are bored and decided to get out and just go see “stuff”. This is probably the last things we can possibly see, photograph and write about when it comes to Prescott, so bare with us.
In a previous entry in the blog, we mentioned the Granite Dells. We didn’t go into much detail, but this site really does hold a bit of history. The Granite Dells is a geological feature. The Dells consist of exposed bedrock and large boulders of granite that have eroded into an unusual lumpy, rippled appearance. Watson Lake and Willow Lake are small man-made reservoirs in this formation. The Granite Dells was quite the place in the early 1900’s. At one time is was the resort of all resorts, complete with bath house, swimming hole, dance hall, bowling alley, restaurant, picnic area and many more amenities. As late as the 1970’s it was still a popular place to go in the summer. The Granite Dells is now a private residence and ironically owned by one of my daughters employers and she gets to visit here often
I had mentioned Watson Lake in a previous post which is the main lake surrounding the Dells, but Willow Lake plays a big part in helping with the formations of the rocks. My cousin who was visiting me from Canada one year called both lakes “swamps” as they do contain marsh and much vegetation. Both lakes are actually reservoirs, and when full are quite beautiful, but no comparison to the lakes of Canada so I can understand her comment. There is no more swimming in either lake, but canoes, kayaks and non motorized sail boats are allowed. Still plenty of picnic areas and Ramadas around the lakes and hiking is a very popular activity.
Not far from the dells and heading back into town you will see that Prescott does have a very small zoo. The zoo is actually an animal sanctuary. Heritage Park Zoo is the entrance to a local park with picnicing and a small sports complex for baseball and soccer. Situated on ten acres and overlooking Willow Lake, the sanctuary has many opportunities for visitors including a covered picnic pavilion; a children’s playground; interactive animal experiences; and large, naturally landscaped enclosures for the animals with paths that allow visitors the opportunity to get an up-close and personal view of them. One of the most interesting exhibits, and one which is unique to the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, is the Tarantula Grotto. This building has a distinctive cave-like feel, and houses different spiders from all over the world. This is one of the largest public displays of spiders in the country. Of course if you don’t like spiders…not so interesting.
The zoo became a sanctuary by rescuing animals from all over. The collection of sanctuary animals include a tiger who came from a zoo in Nebraska that lost its permits; an American Black Bear who came to the sanctuary as a cub when his mother was illegally shot by a hunter; a gray fox who was rescued as a youngster from the Phoenix area where she found alone and half drowned near a pool; and a mountain lion who was confiscated after she was found being kept illegally as a pet in Arizona. Just like rescued cats and dogs, these animals know they were saved and love the zoo and it’s visitors.
One of the newest attractions to Prescott is the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium. The planetarium is located on the Embry Riddle Aeronautic Campus, just across the street from the Heritage Zoo. It is the only Arizona planetarium north of Phoenix, that is capable of seating 116 students and visitors, showing them the cosmos in 360-degree 4k resolution. The Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium came to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2017 with the construction of the STEM Education Center. The planetarium hosts events and programming open to the greater Prescott and Quad-City public year-round. I have worked with Linda for many years and with her love for children, donating this planetarium to Prescott does not surprise me. By inviting local schools and community members to participate in these events, the planetarium has the potential to influence students in the community who previously had little to no access to this type of curriculum. This experience exposes children to the possibilities of careers in high-paying professions that might have otherwise been unattainable.
And one last thing, that probably belongs with the quirky things is a huge wire cross off the 69 freeway on the way to Prescott Valley. The cross is actually homed at the Heights Church on Larry Caldwell Drive. I can’t find anything about the cross but it’s right on the highway and you can see it for miles. This attraction was important to us as we have pictures of several LARGE crosses across the country so it’s something we take pictures of so we can scrapbook them all together…may not be much to you, but it is to us.
So this will probably be our last posting about Prescott unless something else opens up or sparks our interest. Prescott is an unique town in itself and is worth visiting. There is something here for everyone so everyone should visit…but don’t move here….we want to keep it small.