Roadside America: Destination Carhenge

The year: 2012. Or 2013. I don’t know. I’m in Pennsylvania, on one of many “lost remote” Travel Channel benders. A series on Roadside Attractions has kept my attention for a few hours now, but I can’t help but glaze over how distant these places seem.

Being a suburban girl, I could hardly appreciate the kitsch nature of Abandoned towns, buildings, or strange statues in the middle of nowhere. I’ll admit–if it wasn’t a Chick-Fil-A, I didn’t really want it.

There’s a segment on this nameless series that focuses on Carhenge. Huh. Carhenge. It’s like Stonehenge, but Cars. I actually thought it was kind of cool at that time. Just one problem:

Who in their right mind, at least–is traveling through Alliance, Nebraska?
Through the years, I slowly forgot about Carhenge, but my love and appreciation of Roadside America did grow. On my first trip to the Poconos, I spotted the Penn Hills Resort, creepily peeking out from the wilderness. I guess that was my first Roadside love.

Life has a funny way of taking us places. It would be years of moving, driving some of the most desolate roads of the Dakotas and stopping in a few sleepy towns worthy of love.

Wally The Walleye–watching over Garrison, ND with the soulless gaze of a fish.

This was the land of Roadside America.

The past few years, Easter has been an odd holiday–I despise boring Mom Blog rants so I’ll keep this short.
1) There isn’t really enough time off to travel to Pennsylvania, or anywhere far.
2) I love to cook, but I am not overly religious enough to justify cooking the meal for others or inviting my family somewhere.

After two years, we ended up throwing in the towel and taking Easter Weekend to travel somewhere (near-ish) to spend time together, eat brunch and appreciate our little family.

But…wait a minute. Don’t we go through Nebraska to get to Denver?

Nah. It couldn’t be.

Confession: I spent three weeks of my life more excited to see Carhenge than Denver, Colorado.
Well, what is there to say?  I’ve taken some soul-crushing drives through some of the most beautiful, but isolated prairie.  The Potentially Racist Muffler Man Indian has greeted me numerous times with his frozen, shirtless greeting. I’ve shamefully passed the Enchanted Highway no less than six times without seeing it. Eh.

The ride to Denver was no exception. Watching the Black Hills slowly vanish into oblivion (or cornfields) was oddly refreshing and depressing. We passed through the City of Chadron (Walmart included) and I awaited the destination of Alliance.

Twenty minutes outside of Chadron, I felt it. My God, this is BFE, I thought. Right here. I found it.

Just as the service on my phone dwindled out and I was trapped with having to actually conversate with my family (just kidding), I wondered what would happen if our car broke down.

Nevermind, let’s count cows. Hey, a sign!

An amazingly boring hour later, signs for Alliance appear on the Horizon. I think we missed a turn, due to my GPS signal dropping. Is Alliance, Nebraska a small town? Not terribly (for the Upper Midwest). It boasts a beautiful downtown, some fast food chains, and even a few Mexican restaurants.

Is it in the middle of nowhere? YES. And Carhenge is actually outside of town limits.

We’ve arrived. Now what?

  1. Look at Carhenge. Touch Carhenge. My daughter was surprisingly amused with this work of art.20190419-DSC_0690
  2. Take your time. I don’t know who is reading this…but the silence of Nebraska Country is special and worth the experience. Especially after that long drive.
  3. Learn about Carhenge. You can also do that here.
  4. Check out the other sculptures.

Let’s talk about that. There are a number of other car-esque statues. They’re actually pretty awesome. Everything is interactive, touchable, and safe (I guess).

The site was remarkably clean–I only spotted one trashcan in the area, but I didn’t find anything vandalized, broken or messy. It *might* be worth noting that a small colony of Pigeons has taken a liking to Carhenge itself–there was some poop on the sculpture (?), but not enough to send me running.

Sometimes it’s the journey, my friends. We spent a generous 30-45 minutes walking around and taking pictures. The pit stop is much needed for the weary driver.  At the end of the day, you can revel in the fact that you experienced such a strange sculpture (with an equally strange story) in the middle of nowhere.

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