Saturday, December 25, 2010


Finally here with the Powells in Houston for 2011. It has been an Advent Adventure, fo' shur! Now for a Murray's Choice homebrew...

I love being part of such a wonderful family.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

One last "World's Largest" as I approach Houston. The World's Largest Teapot is in Navasota, Texas (not in Chester, West Virginia). It is located at Martha's Bloomers Home & Garden Store.

I had the perfect Christmas beer for Christmas Eve: Santa's Butt, an English brew. It’s a splendid, satisfying Winter Porter. Everyone wants a piece of Santa’s Butt.

This special porter was inspired by this famous line from a well-loved children’s story book: "And Santa sat on his great butt, drinking a hearty brew."

In case you find that amusing, I hasten to point out that in England ‘butt’ refers to a certain barrel used in brewing -- a very large barrel, in fact, holding 108 imperial gallons. Back in the day it was quite a normal thing for a brewery to put its beer up in a large butt for storage.

Still snickering, eh? Get your mind out of the gutter or Santa will skip your house entirely this year.

Got into Houston in time for a Christmas Eve service, at Rev. Joel and Victoria Osteen's Lakewood Church. Fittingly, it is the World's Largest Church, with 16,000 seats and more than 38,000 worshipers weekly. I guess no fear of the ministers having too many "close personal relationships" here...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Texas Sights

Sure is great to be in Texas again.

Thought I would catch a few sights in Texas as I head for Houston. Though some sights here are not too pretty.

Stopped in Decatur to see the superb Petrified Wood Gas Station. Actually, what I liked best was this vintage blue Mustang. No, I am not trying to take it. I am not a criminal!

I saw this cute girl in Decatur. Now this is more like it, a pretty sight in Texas!

I passed through Weatherford, hometown to Mary Martin (who orginated Peter Pan) and her son, Larry Hagman (J.R. of Dallas fame). I know, it is goofy that I posed like the statue, but it is a family tradition (I am on the right, btw).

I came to Weatherford to see another World's Largest. The town has a museum where visitors can see a full-sized longhorn named Rawhide who was mentioned by Ripley's Believe it or Not as having the Largest Horn Spread.

One last World's Largest today: the World's Largest Catapiller. It is right on I-35 in Italy, TX. It is seven domes merged together, formed by sprayed concrete over a balloon -- the national home of Monolithic Dome Industries. OK, pretty stupid. But sure is a nice hog, huh?

To a non-Texan, the Lone Star longneck is probably the most famous beer in the State of Texas, and that is a real shame. Don't get me wrong; Texans are mighty proud of the Lone Star state - but Lone Star beer? Not so much. I mean, look what it did to this poor critter.

Should reach Houston tomorrow, Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Ooops! I mailed myself to Will's college address by mistake. I managed to get out of the box at least. Still plenty of time to get to Houston. I decided to check out Will's college town.

I kinda wanted to see Will play volleyball. Then I imagined how that could go...

I visited the University of North Texas campus. I went by the Marketing Department, but people were unsure who this "Will Powell" person could be. "Are you sure he takes classes here?" I was asked.

Meanwhile, I was awarded a diploma. Not sure what the big deal is. Seemed easy enough.

As I have seen several jackalopes on my Adventure, I visited Denton's own. It is a jackalope-shaped smoker in the front yard of someone's house on Bolivar Street. The vents are in the ears, and the grease spout is R-rated.

I really needed a beer. Stopped in at Denton's Armadillo Ale Works, and had their IPA.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

I am so cold! Since I am here (and warm) in the Angle Inlet Post Office, I am mailing myself to Texas. So I will check in with my followers in a few days when I arrive.

Hundreds of my new northern Minnesota fans came to see me off.

Ho Ho Ho, Green Giant!

If you thought the "Ho Ho Ho" title refered to the season, you are mistaken. I did not include this shot when I posted Minnesota's World's Largest, but it fits here.

Putting even giant animals in their place, the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota dwarfs all other North Dakota / Minnesota highway leviathans. At 55-feet tall, he stands head-and-husk above a rival 2D 2-dimensional green giant in nearby Le Sueur (The Official Birthplace of the Jolly Green Giant).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Northernmost Point in the Lower 48

Before I start south to Texas, I made a stop at the Northernmost Point in the Continental United States. It is in the appropriately named Angle Inlet, Minnesota, that angle of the state that sticks into Canada a bit. In fact, you cannot get to Angle Inlet by road without going through Canada.

Speaking of roads, they are cold and desolate up here.

Here is today's weather map to give you an idea of where I am.

Here I am at the Northernmost Post Office in the Continental United States. I think at this point I have the Coldest Aquamarine Tush in the Continental United States. Hence I am inside.

It's so cold the approprite beer was Cold Spring Ale, of the Cold Spring Brewery, in Cold Spring, Minnesota. Brrr...

Time to head south for warmer climes and Christmas cheer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Minnesota's Largest

In Minnesota I decided to concentrate on the state's "World's Largest.."

The World's Largest Booming Prairie Chicken is in Rothsay. This 13-foot-tall creature is the closest thing to a bird-from-Mars that you're likely to see. Prairie chickens look strange on normal days, but when they "boom" -- puffing out two bright orange air sacs on their necks -- they look positively alien.

The World's Largest Pelican stands at the base of the Mill Pond dam on the Pelican River, right in downtown Pelican Rapids, Minnesota. It is 15 1/2 feet tall.

The World's Largest Loon resides in Vergas, Minnesota. This loon has for decades hooted down the claims of several newer, nearly-as-large rivals. 20 feet tall, it looks out over Long Lake, perhaps in search of a similarly over-sized mate.

The World's Largest Crow sits atop a 31-foot-long branch, itself atop a 25-foot-tall cement pedestal, in Belgrade, Minnesota. Eighteen feet tall -- in all, 43 feet high -- this biggest of all birds has an eerie, pagan idol quality, particularly since it's so massive, so well-done, and so out in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, the World's Largest Twine Ball is prominently displayed in Darwin, Minnesota. Do not confuse this with the World's Largest Ball of String (Not Twine) in Weston, Missouri. Maybe I will visit that one too.

My Minnesota beer is by the Surly Brewery in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota (It's never too early for a Surly). I selected their CynicAle.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

North Dakota

I decided to swing up into North Dakota to see what there was to see. The answer: pretty much nothing.

There are a lot of very straight roads up here. One in particular, North Dakota Highway 46, is supposedly the straightest of them all -- plumb line straight -- the longest straight road in America. It stretches across 123 miles of North Dakota prairie. Yawn.

I did find a few other "World's Largest."

New Salem, ND is cow crazy. Its high school sports teams are named the Holsteins. And overlooking the interstate, on the only hill visible for many many miles, is New Salem's pride: Salem Sue, the World's Largest Cow.

The World's Largest Buffalo is in Jamestown, ND. It is clearly male.
The World's Largest Catfish is in Wahpeton, ND (locally referred to as the Wahpper). No idea as to gender.

In a state where almost everything is flat, the KVLY-TV tower in Blanchard, North Dakota, is an exceptional anomaly. Not only is it vertical, it’s more vertical than any other man-made thing on the planet. Well, second biggest. It is 2063 feet high. One in Dubai is now taller.

Beer in North Dakota? In honor of Bismark, ND, I had Sink the Bismark beer. OK, so it is made in Scotland. It has the distinction of being the World's Strongest Beer at 41% ABV. Which you need in North Dakota.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Porter Sculpture Park

Porter Sculpture Park is located in Montrose, SD. It features more than 50 sculptures produced by Wayne Porter, including a 60' tall bull head (The giant bull head is visible for miles on I-90).

But is it art?

Another large sculpture depicts a fish jumping out of a cracked fish bowl and making an escape across the field.

I went past cartoon-like vultures doing different things such as bashing each other over the tops of their heads with hammers. After the vultures I wound past the yellow man (poking fun at art critics), a prairie dragon, and a giant screaming head with a hand erupted out of its scalp, among others.

This one sculpture is nearly the right shade in this light...

I even met the sculptor, Wayne Porter. Nice hat.

In honor of Wayne Porter, today's beer is a porter: Old Bongwater Hemp Porter from Kettlehouse Brewery in Montana. Obviously something inspired Wayne...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Corn Palace

Took in a few more sites in South Dakota. Checked out Petrified Wood Park, in Lemmon, SD. The park is slightly eerie in its resemblance of a petrified forest, with strong evidence of years of hard labor apparent. A hundred conical structures are spread throughout the park, with some standing up to 20-feet tall.

Checked out yet another concrete jackalope, this one in Mitchell. Except it is all jack and no lope. It no longer has antlers. The totem pole is pretty cool, however.

I stumbled upon a Happy Chef in Mitchell. Something about the Happy Chef haunts me. What's with his bowlegged stance? And that crazed expression? Then it hit me; this is a statue of a crazed man who suffers from rickets, has beaten the kitchen staff at the local sanitarium, stolen a chef hat and spoon and is racing to freedom, arms pinwheeling in lunatic joy. Don't you agree?

Mitchell is a prairie town that is corn crazy and proud of it. Mitchell's high school sports teams are the Kernels. Its local radio station's call letters are KORN. And it's home to the "agricultural showplace of the world," the Mitchell Corn Palace.

The Palace, with its mad mix of onion domes and minarets, looks like it was drop-kicked out of czarist Russia. It was originally built to show off the fertility of South Dakota soil - and it's remained on the job, standing in downtown Mitchell for over 75 years.

This street light is not quite the right shade...

Mitchell's Corn Palace is built out of reinforced concrete, not corn. Every spring, however, its exterior is completely covered with thousands of bushels of native South Dakota corn, grain, and grasses that are arranged into large murals. Sorry I missed that. I would have liked to have seen my likeness in corn. Though the aquamarine would be a challenge.

Today's beer, in tribute to the Corn Palace: Miller High Life, which is supposedly made with lots of corn.