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Titan Missile Museum, Green Valley, AZ

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,m 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.

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Dwarf Car Museum, Maricopa, AZ

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.

First Car made out of Refrigerators

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!”

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Mark Twain: Hannibal, MO: Day 8–June 22, 2016

Huck Finn Home

Huck Finn Home

Louise Speaks:  We did a bit of back tracking today based on where we camped last night, but with the rain and weather, it was not a bad thing.  We headed back to Hannibal, MO the home of Mark Twain and Huck Finn.  This really is what Hannibal is about.  Everything in town is some how related to Mark Twain…Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  Half of the town bears the name Mark Twain and the name is on every street and business.  The other half of town bears the names of his fictional characters.

100_9510Right on Main Street,  in the center of town, is a “Bronze statue of Mark Twains’ fictional heroes”.  The statues were sculpted in 1926 by Frederick Hibbard.  This statue was actually the first US statue erected to fictional characters.  It marks the beginning of the Mark Twain home and museum tour.

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As you enter the Mark Twain Museum there is a time line of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain’s) life.  There are many photos and a short video telling his story.  The museum houses a collection of 15 original oil paintings by Norman Rockwell, who was commissioned in the 1930’s to illustrate special editions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

100_9511Once outside and to your left is the “Tom Sawyer Fence”. The fence is called “crowd sourcing” as it tries to get people to work for free.  In the story, Mark Twain’s character, Tom Sawyer, tricked people into painting a fence for free.  Today at the fence is a bucket of paint brushes, trying to lure people to pick up a brush and paint.

20160621_165619Next to the fence is Mark Twain’s boyhood home.  The tidy two story white clapboard house where the family lived in the 1840’s is open to tour.  You are able to tour both floors of the home and 100_9550several of the items in the home are authentic pieces that belonged to the Samuel Clemens family.  A half dozen other buildings line the street of Mark Twain Village.  Becky Thatcher’s home, Mark Twain’s first love, is directly across from Mark Twain’s home.  The other buildings include the office where Sam Clemons father practiced law, and the Grants Drug Store.

There is much more to see about Mark Twain, like the Mark Twain Cave.  We did not take the tour and almost camped here, but they were closed when we arrived.  One interesting fact about the RV Park and the Cave is that if and when there is a tornado warning, all the campers from the RV park are rushed to the cave for shelter…even if it is in the middle of the night…now that would be an experience, and it has happened more than once.

Patricia list Hannibal all by itself in her book “1000 Places To See Before You Die”.  Since I was one that was not raised on Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens, this was not an attraction that I could say I was dying to visit..but it is always fun to visit original buildings or see a town that is so dedicated to one famous person.  That being said, I would rate Hannibal, and Mark Twain a B…it was a fun stop and a great town.

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