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Thursday, March 27, 2014

In Search of the World's Smallest Post Office

One day my family was taking a back road drive through the middle of nowhere in Cashiers, NC.  After rounding a curve we stumbled across this.

No bigger then a tool shed, sitting in the middle of nowhere was the world's smallest post office.  I will drive across the country to see tourist attractions, but it is always extra special to stumble across something special like this.  Sadly, this little post office is no longer in use.  I have no idea why.  It actually wasn't even located here originally and had to be relocated.  There are a few pictures posted here that show the size of pretty well.

Of course this would not be the last time I would stumble across the World's Smallest Post Office.

The next time would occur at Shenadoah Caverns in Virginia.

Shenadoah Caverns is a great little tourist cave.  They caves are populated with "Pixies", evoking
memories of Rock City's gnomes.

Shenadoah Cavern's claim to fame is that is hosts the world's largest example of "Cave Bacon".  Here is my terrified claustrophobic daughter posing with the "bacon".

Shenadoah Caverns has another claim to fame as well.  To match their world's largest cave bacon, they also have this.

The Smallest Post Office.  Of course the question mark at the end doesn't show a lot of confidence in their claim.  As much as I appreciate this example of roadside bravado, I am going to have to call BS on this one.  This post office is a small booth inside the building that contains the entrance to the caverns.  The post office is only a small section of the larger building.  I would say that the smallest post office has to be free standing.

And it is.........In Ochopee, FL.

Behold, the smallest Post Office in the United States.   It is fully functional and located deep in the everglades of Florida.  Sadly it was closed when I came through, so I didn't get the full experience.  However, lucky for me, this find establishment is just one mile down the road.

Read more here........

The Carpetbagger

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Monday, March 24, 2014

St. Augustine Turbo Trip Through America's Oldest City.

Back in 2008 me and my family took our first trip to Florida.  I had not been there since I was in first grade so it was a huge deal for me and I wanted to see as much as possible.  We had a tight schedule though, as we were set to meet my parents at Disney World.  I however was dead set on seeing as much of this magical of city as possible.

As we rolled into St. Augustine I saw something that my blood pumping immediately.   Right on the side of the road was an airplane cemetery.

So we roll into in St. Augustine and check into our hotel room just in time to start our ghost tour.  Now, I am not a big believer in ghosts, but it was fun to get to play with one of those stupid EMF detectors that they use on those stupid ghost hunting show.

Hey look!  I even found a ghost.  There is an orb in the pictures.  I would go into my tirade on how stupid orbs are, but we have a lot of St. Augustine to cover so just google "orbs".  Now, every major city on the coast offers Ghost tours.  It if generally accepted that Savannah, GA is "The Most Haunted City in America", every other city claims to be number 2.  St. Augustine is no exception. 

We finished off the haunted section of our tour with a trip to the St. Augustine Lighthouse where on the lovely show "Ghost Hunters" were they allegedly video taped a cloaked figure running up the stairs.

Sadly, because we are in such a hurry, I only had time to take this horrible blurry pictures.  We did not have the time to take the long winding trip to the top.

Waking up bright and early we only had a few hours to see everything St. Augustine, so of course we have to start with St. Augustine's most celebrated attraction: The Fountain of Youth.  I have covered my time there PREVIOUSLY.

So we sip our nasty tasting water and head on our way to The Old Jail.  The Old St. Augustine Jail was built in 1891, by Henry Flagler, the billionaire that created Florida.

Outside you can have your picture taken with a facsimile of Sheriff Joe Perry. 

As the tour is about to begin a man in a straw hat and a sheriff badge emerges and starts shouting at you and talking to you like you are are dirt.  So begins the charming tour through the old Jail, which gives you the experience of being talked to like inmate.

In between yelling at you the Sheriff shows off the amenities of the jail such as the bird cage.

The Gallows.....

And of course they they have the tourist photo ops that you expect from your tourist attractions.

Finally the Sheriff takes you into the jail for the grand tour.  They start in the "dungeon" where you get to see family friendly scenes such as these.....

The tour is short, but amusing, with emphasis on hos shitty the conditions of the jail were.  This is highlighted by the mannequins shoved into the ridiculously small cells.

The tour is concluded when the wax figure of Sheriff Joe Perry suddenly starts moving and talking and reveals himself to be a freaky animatronic.

So, now we are running REALLY low on time.  As we peeled down the strip blowing past the largest cross in Florida so fast I didn't even get a picture, we notice a big castley thing.

So we pull over, pay 10 bucks to spend literally ten minutes inside.  It was full of canons and guys dressed like revolutionary soldiers.

Later research concluded that we were inside the famous "Castillo de San Marcos".  The oldest fort in the United States.  My lack of time spent in the Castillo is not a criticism of the attraction, I really was in that much of a hurry.

You see, in St. Augustine, everything is the oldest something.  So our next stop is fittingly the Oldest Wooden School House in America!

Now, we were really really short on time by this point, so luckily, it was only a one room school house.  However, they did succeed in packing a lot of creepiness in one room.  Check out these ghoulish children.

And let's not forget their ghoulish teacher.....

Oh yeah, much like Sheriff Joe Perry......He moves....

And so concluded my extremely rushed tour of St. Augustine.  We were in such a hurry, I actually missed out on the countries OLDEST Wax Museum on my first trip through.

Of course I have to mention this awesome Motel.

The sign was actually built in the 90s for use in a TV show about a magician that owned a Motel.

The Carpetbagger

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Friday, March 21, 2014

The Mountaineer Inn

Forget the damn Biltmore House, to me there is only one true Iconic Landmark in Asheville, NC as far as I am concerned.   In the fast food district, near Red Lobster and Hooter's a massive figure rises out of the sea of box restaurants.

This giant Hillbilly overlooks the great city of Asheville and beckons folks to the Mountaineer Motel that has been a local institution since 1939.

The Motel is one of the best living examples of using Hillbilly Imagery in Mountain tourism.  In addition to the giant Hillbilly out front there are two miniature neon Hillbillies flanking the office.

Recently these guys little a fresh coat of paint.

Also making an appearance is Mammy Yokum, a character from the Li'l Abner.  Li'l Abner was a comic strip about a family of Hillbillies that ran from 1934-1977.

Now I have never actually stayed at the Motel, so I can't speak towards that experience.  My wife did call once to inquire about reservations.  She bluntly asked them "Are there a bunch of crackheads staying there?"  The lady at the counter calmly responded, "No mam, we don't rent to locals".

Here are a few captions from their Trip Adviser page: "Bed Bugs and Fleas", "Worst Place Ever" and "Greatest Motel Stay Ever".

I love these signs, but it isn't until night time that the true magic happens.

The Carpetbagger

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Musee Conti

Here on the Carpetbagger I have talked a lot about different Wax Museums.  Wax Museums are amongst my favorite roadside attractions.  Regardless of the theme or city, I am always willing to take a trip through a new wax museum.  Each figure is like its own attraction to me.

I wanted to talk about my absolute favorite Wax Museum in the world:  Musee Conti.  Now, Musee Conti doesn't have the cool interactive features of modern Wax Museums.  It doesn't necessarily have the creepiest figures.  But Musee Conti has a charm of its own that I have never seen replicated.

Just a few blocks of Burboun Street in New Orleans, Musee Conti is true marvel in the Wax Museum universe.  French for Museum Conti, the Museum can be found on Rue Conti, which is french for Conti Street.

The Museum has odd hours and is only open three days a week.  I was lucky to catch it while I was in New Orleans, and I certainly don't regret it.

The Museum has a strong regional feel, with some of New Orleans greatest themes and legends on display, including this awesome Voodoo display.....

And you can't have a New Orleans Wax Museum without Voodoo Queen Marie Leveau.....

Or famed high society sadistic serial killer Delphine LaLaurie......

Then there is the legend of the "casket girls".  Young woman brought over from France to marry.  They carried their clothing in small "caskets".  There was a legend at the time that the girls carried aborted fetuses in their caskets.  Nice.

There is the legendary governor of Louisiana "King Fish" Huey Long, one of the most eccentric politicians in US history.  He actually believed in a "wealth cap" where if anyone possessed assets exceeding a million dollars any extra revenue would be seized by the government and redistributed to the poor.  Remember that the next time someone calls Obama Socialist.   It was actually predicted by some at the time that Long would be President, but he was gunned down by a dentist in the capital building.

Louisiana has no shortage of eccentric governors.  Here is Edwin Edwards, Louisiana Governor who went to prison for corruption and actually had a reality show on A&E last year featuring him and his 20 something wife.

And then we have various scenes of assorted New Orleans mischief, such as fighting hookers.....

and hookers robbing sailors..........

Now that I am looking at these photos again, it seems that all the figures have some weird orange makeup on their face.....

Anyways, we have slave auctions....

And people being rounded up and shot in the street.....

And then of course we have Wax Museum perennial Mark Twain.  I think there muse be some law that every wax museum has to have a Twain.

One of the absolute highlights in the Museum is this bizarre scene Featuring Napoleon in the bathtub.

Like a lot of other wax museums Musee Conti has a "Chamber of Horrors", however I actually think Musee Conti has one of the strongest Chambers I have scene, mixing modern monsters like Freddy Kreueger...

Along with some great classic movie monsters.........

The Chamber of Horrors works in some more obscure scenes, such as this guy whipping a hunchback.....

And this horrific scene from "The Corpse in the Waxworks".....

Possibly most puzzling is the scene from Edgard Allen Poe's "The Murders in Rue Morgue".  It features an animatronic twirling gorilla.  I was not familiar with the story at the time, so this made little sense.  The story is generally considered the first mystery novel.  The killer is revealed to be SPOILER ALERT an Orangutang.

I know that's a bad picture, but you try to take a picture of a twirling gorilla through a smudgy window.

Finally the museum inexplicably ends with a giant Cyclopes in a cage.

And so ends, our trip through one of the most amazing Wax Museums to grace mankind.

The Carpetbagger

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