During our recent trek across Nevada, we were fortunate to stumble upon an elusive Nevada Shoe tree (genus: Pinus Adidas). This rare species is characterized by clusters of hanging fruit measuring roughly one foot long. Their rubbery texture makes them inedible (some say the flavor is reminiscent of sole), but the fibrous laces are often extracted and used as cordage and the tongue is considered a delicacy in some cultures.
I’m all about kitsch, so stopping by the shoe tree just outside of Middlegate, Nevada was a no-brainer. The original shoe tree was cut down by vandals in 2011, so this is a new shoe tree.
You might call it a sole survivor.
You know how Clark Griswold is all excited to check out the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth (“only four short hours away”) during his cross-country trip to Walley World in National Lampoon’s Vacation? That’s me.
This wasn’t even my first shoe tree. In 2017, Tara and I made a weekend getaway to the Painted Hills of Oregon and stumbled across this bad boy in the middle of nowhere.
Shoe trees, by the way, are always in the middle of nowhere.
Other fun, kitschy places I have made it a point to visit during my lifetime include the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota;
the world’s largest Holstein cow, in New Salem, North Dakota;
a replica of Stonehenge in Maryhill, Washington;
and—even better (read: kitschier)—a replica of Stonehenge made out of automobiles in Alliance, Nebraska.
The odder, the better. That’s my motto.
What strange attractions have you seen (and, more importantly, are they within easy driving distance of Rapid City, South Dakota?). Maps and directions optional but greatly appreciated.