Wacky, Wonderful, Winston-Salem Sight Seeing Tour

Who says Texas does everything bigger and better?  Here in Winston-Salem, NC and nearby towns, we have bigness, too.   Tremendous, bigly bigness…and it is great, really great.  I have planned a little sightseeing day tour that is a fun way to spend quality time with friends and loved ones.  While this might not be the most amazing tour ever created, I guarantee you’ll have a blast taking selfies and being “amazed” at the awesome sights!   I have been to each and can attest to the awesomeness.  I wouldn’t plan your family vacation around this list, but if you’re in Winston-Salem for a Wake Forest game or business meeting or to see some other more conventional sights (like Old Salem), give it a try!

TOTAL DRIVING TIME:  less than 2 hours
There are no admission charges along the way.
10 STOPS: 

World’s largest and last remaining Shell Clam shell gas station.  –  This place was built in the 1930’s and narrowly escaped demolition.   I can just imagine Navin R. Johnson-looking attendants in crisp white suits checking the oil and cleaning windshields.   The world’s largest clam shell station is located at 1111 E. Sprague Street in Winston-Salem.

ThriftWay Meats Bull –  Okay, this is the least impressive sight on the list, but it’s almost within walking distance of the shell.   It’s at least worth a drive-by snapshot.   If you do decide to stop, where else can you take a selfie underneath a bull without getting arrested or gored to death?
The bull is located at 653 Waughtown St, Winston-Salem.

World’s Largest Coffee Pot – I’m not sure if it really is the world’s largest, but the Mickey Coffee Pot in Old Salem is pretty awesome.  Apparently there is a bigger one in Saskatchewan, Canada, but it’s probably not worth the drive.   What makes this one so cool is that it was constructed in 1858 out of tin as an eye catcher outside a tin shop.   I bet it’s the world’s largest coffee pot made out of tin.   It is located at the intersection of Main St. and Old Salem Rd. in Winston-Salem.

Reynolds Building, the largest skyscraper in the South until 1964 –  I don’t know what building eclipsed the height of this one in 1964 and it’s probably way down on the list now, but that’s okay!  This 22 story building was built  in 1929 and was the precursor to the Empire State Building, which was built in 1931.  The Empire State building is an exact replica…with a few additional floors.   The Reynolds building  has been renovated recently and is now an upscale hotel with rooms going between $180 and $300 (ugh), but it’s still a cool place to stand under and look up and it has a neat lobby.   It is located at 401 Main St on the corner of 4th St.

World’s Largest Periodic Table Picnic Table –  Prove me wrong.  I bet it is the world’s largest and maybe the nerdiest landmark you’ll find anywhere.   Built by two art students, it is located on the campus of Wake Forest University near Davis field  at Salem Hall, Gulley Drive, Winston-Salem.

Now we’re going to venture a little ways out of Winston-Salem….

World’s Largest Chair –  Located in beautiful Thomasville, NC, the furniture capital of the world,  this wonder is 38 feet tall.   While it isn’t quite as impressive as you might think, it is a good reason to go to Thomasville…and there’s really no other good reason to go to Thomasville.   It is located at 44 Main Street.  Trust me, you can’t miss it.

The World’s Largest Victorian Chest of Drawers – Towering 32 feet, I had heard about this amazing structure when I was a kid.  When I started working in High Point years later, I made a point to stop by and I wasn’t disappointed.   It may not be the tallest piece of furniture in the world, but it is still impressive.   I suppose those socks are close to the world’s largest, too.   It is located at 508 Hamilton St in High Point, a block or two off Main St.

The World’s Largest Highboy Chest of Drawers – How fitting that this sight is located at Furnitureland, the world’s largest furniture store.   It rises 85 feet above the showroom.  Having two landmarks within a few miles of each other is like having the Eiffel Tower and the Tower of Pisa in the same vicinity.   You have to go before 5:30 because the gates of the business close then.  It is located at 5635 Riverdale Dr. in Jamestown.

Daniel Boone’s Parents and Brother’s graves – Okay, this is not a “world’s largest”, but Daniel Boone is one of the largest icons in American History.   He killed a bear when he was only three!  Or was that Davey Crockett?   Fess Parker did us a great disservice by portraying both on TV.   Daniel’s parents Squire and Sarah, as well as his brother Israel, are buried in Joppa Cemetery.    It’s kind of disappointing that the cemetery is located next to a strip mall which is visible from the grave sites.  But it’s still pretty cool.  Not nearly as disappointing as the Alamo, though, another Daniel Boone landmark (or was it Davey?)    Joppa Cemetery is located at 1348 Yadkinville Rd in Mocksville, about 20 miles west of Winston-Salem.

Bigfoot Walking a Pig –  What????  NO WAY!!!  Yes, it’s true.  Just 12 miles north of Winston-Salem is the world’s only statue of Bigfoot walking a pig.   How much better can it get?  This may be the only entry on the list worth planning a family vacation around.   I have been past Creekside Supply Co. several times, but I never noticed it, so this is the only entry that I have never seen.  But, it’s got to be awesome, right?   You can bet I’ll make it a point to stop and take a picture.   It is located on Hwy 8 / NC 65 in Germanton, NC.

While this blog entry is a bit facetious, all or parts of this tour would make a great way to spend a day or half day with people you love.  And that’s what life is all bout, isn’t it?



Lazy Vegetarian Survival Tips

I am a lazy vegetarian.  I gave up red meat and chicken in 1981 and seafood in 1982.  For 36 years I have eaten nothing but veggies and cheese and an occasional egg.  So naturally I’m slim and trim and super healthy.  Actually…..no.  I’m tipping the Toledos at about 275 (I’m nearly 6′ 4″, so it’s not THAT bad).  I have never really learned how to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.  It’s too damn complicated!   Most vegetarian cookbooks have ingredients I’ve never heard of and to get them I have to enter a Trader Joes, or worse yet, a vegetarian grocery and battle all the tree-hugging, hairy underarm, druid feminists!  I would rather battle the zombies at WalMart…at least there I can see the exits in case of emergency.
I get my protein from Jif, cheese, salted peanuts and other fine food.  Not exactly a Jack LaLanne regimen, but at my last checkup my cholesterol was as low as it can go and all organs are working properly…or at least semi functional.
All of you have tried to go veggie…and failed….admit it.   The reason is because it is impossible to go from sirloin to sprouts overnight.   So here are my tips for you all who choose to start out lazily on their quest to be vegetarian.

TOP FOODS FOR THE LAZY VEGETARIAN (in no particular order)

    1. WalMart coleslaw and Amish potato salad.  This is a staple of my diet.  I have made special trips to WalMart to get both so I have my fix before they run out.   And they WILL run out, usually before 4pm.   Take a half day off of work if you have to.  It is worth it.  Note:  You MUST buy the slaw and salad that they scoop into the containers.  DO NOT get the pre-packaged stuff.  It is NOT the same!

2.   MorningStar Farms bean burgers.  This is your steak when others are eating New York Strip.  They say a portabella mushroom is the “vegetarian steak”….bullshit.  A portabella mushroom is a big squishy mushroom.   Don’t even try to cook them firm, it won’t work.
Spicy Black Bean Burgers are the best, but the Grillers are good and Boca Burgers are pretty good, too.   It’s ALL GOOD with WalMart slaw, onions, ketchup, and mustard slathered on top!


3.   Papa John’s thin crust mushroom and onion pizza.  Good lord, I can (and have) eaten a whole large in one sitting.   Thankfully I order “light on the cheese” so I don’t get fat(ter).   Currently, you can get one for $7.95 (carry out only), which is a deal compared to the $13 you’d have to pay if you don’t order online or order delivery.   In the past I have strayed to Domino’s, Pizza Inn, Lil Caesar’s, etc, but I always come back, even though every time I see “Papa John” on TV  I wish I could punch him in the face.   I think if he nicked himself shaving his whole face would peel off due to so many facelifts.  Okay, that’s mean…..buy his pizza, it’s good.

4.  My chili recipe.  This is one of the dishes I survived on in college.  It’s much better than Ramen noodles.  This is simple and takes about 3 minutes to make…that includes microwave time.   Here it is:
Mix one can of Bush’s Chili beans with one can of diced tomatoes.  Done!
Sprinkle cheese and diced onions on top.   Garnish with saltines.   This is an excellent source of protein and vitamin C!
A variation on this is to drain the beans, throw them on a tortilla with some cheese, microwave for about 1 minute and…BOOM…burritos!

5.  If you’re too lazy to make the burrito or chili recipe (man, that’s real lazy), you can always grab one of my favorites,  Taco Bell Bean Burritos!   In college these beauties were 79 cents each and they cured many a hangover on Sunday mornings.   If you’re really hungover you might want to get there before the church crowd.  It can get real uncomfortable if you don’t.   Nowadays they are slightly more than $1.  That’s about 5 cents in 1981 dollars!  Still the best bargain in town.

6.  Jif peanut butter.  I know it is more expensive than Skippy or Peter Pan.  Twice as much as Great Value or Food Lion brand,  but it is worth it.  Choosy mothers choose Jif and I’m a choosy mutha when it comes to peanut butter.  If I was a contestant on Naked and Afraid, a jar of Jif would be my survival item.

7.  Nabs.   The square meal.  These can ONLY be Lance brand.   Keebler uses lard in their version of nabs, or at least I heard they did 30 years ago.  Regardless, Lance brand blows every other cracker away.   Don’t bother with the Nip Chees or Nekots or Toastys.  There is only one Nab, aka Toast Chees.

8.  Beer.  A good source of grains (hops, rice, malt).   I prefer Miller High Life just because I like the old commercials and I hate craft beers.  Keep the coriander, pumpkin, sugar and spice,  and other foreign objects out of my beer!  Be aware that English beers like Fosters are not vegetarian (yes, Fosters is made in the UK, not Australia).   Apparently they contain traces of gelatin which is made from animal products.   You know what…if you want a Fosters or a Guinness, have one.   I won’t tell.

I hope you enjoyed my Lazy Vegetarian Survival Guide.   Good luck!

The GreatRaleigh Logo Contest results are in…

….and I didn’t win.   I thought I was a lock for first place in the Isaac Hunter’s Tavern Raleigh Logo Contest.   My logo was simple, green, great font, portable, flexible, everything you could want in a logo.  The feeling of losing when you thought you’d surely win isn’t a good one.  The last time I felt like this was when I played “Captain Silver” three times real fast in the Stoney Creek Elementary talent show.  I was the reincarnation of Mozart for about 30 seconds!   But, friggin’ Billy Grissom won the darn thing with a ventriloquist act!!!  The same kid that relegated me to SECOND place in every spelling contest from 1st to 5th grade.  (P.S. his lips moved).   But, my frustrations during my formative years is a another topic for another time.

The winner of the contest was this one.  I’m not diggin’ the baby poop beige or the abstract acorn.  And this was designed by a real professional designer.  It certainly wasn’t even in my top ten.  Beige is for mini vans.  Beige is for camouflage.  Beige is for…well…Cary.

After reviewing all 40 entrants in the contest,   I came up with a list of the WORST and BEST.

WORST  – in no particular order

Okay, this one may have been done by a middle schooler, so forgive me.  But if you’re gonna enter a contest open to pros, you’re going to have to face the scrutiny.  File that under “Life Lesson”.    A talented seven year old could do this well.  The gumball tree says nothing about Raleigh, nor does the map of Africa.   And who knew you could walk from Morocco to southern Spain?  I could have saved the $75 I spent last time I took the ferry.

This one is just plain scary.  This brings back memories  of the walking tree men (Ents) in Lord of the Rings.  But instead of destroying Isengard, they are destroying Raleigh!!!  And it looks like (judging from the heart and musical notes) that the citizens are enjoying it!   The Babes in Toyland trees, the Wizard of Oz trees, and the HR Pufnstuf  trees gave me nightmares for years, so maybe I’m overreacting.  The logo still sucks, though.

Here’s another one that says nothing about Raleigh.  It looks like a page out of the children’s book, “The Night Kitchen.”   Just add a naked baby and three drunk bakers and the logo would be complete.   Either that or an “in the hood” version of “Goodnight Moon.”

I just KNEW somebody would enter this contest with a logo created solely with MSPaint.   You can tell by the horrible default blue and red colors and the bad placement of the trapezoids using the Shapes feature in Paint.  The insertion of a nondescript skyline and clip art acorn and oak leaf makes this a MS Paint masterpiece.  But not a logo.

Wow.  I wasn’t quite sure to include this one in the BAD or GOOD category.   I actually think it is kinda cool.  Who doesn’t eat an ice cream cone while playing guitar?  Who doesn’t like squirrels with great ideas?  Who doesn’t like chickens laying asterisks?  There is a LOT going on in this creation.  I would have bought a poster of this design in the late 60’s (as long as it was purple and a black light poster).   Even though I admire the creativity, it is not much of a logo.

This one is kinda neat.  As a long time NC resident, I know that the little silhouette of a man (scaramooch) is Sir Walter Raleigh.   But would somebody from, say, SOUTH Carolina, know that it wasn’t one of the Three Musketeers?  Wouldn’t a Virginia resident think it is a Cavalier?   Is it Zorro?  Regardless,  what is SWR doing in a light bulb?  It reminds me of the old “Do you have Sir Walter Raleigh in a can?”  telephone prank.  This is more of a 4am tattoo design than a logo.

This one is the WORST of all.  It was probably designed by a professional or at least an adult.  At first glance it looks pretty good.  But after closer examination….nothing says “Raleigh, City of Oaks” like friggin’ MAPLE LEAVES.   Eh?  Whoever designed this logo is a hoser.
It would be like me entering a Toronto Logo Design Contest and incorporating tobacco leaves.
Can you imagine if the designer was paid $250K and presented this to the Raleigh City Council?  Okay, don’t answer that.  They’d probably love it.

And now the GOOD!

I really like this one.  It looks like an actual oak tree.  It hints at the blending of the old with the new in Raleigh, although most of the “new” in Raleigh is unblended high priced condos, upscale coffee shops and boutique hotels.  Give me the beer soaked cement floors of 1970’s Hillsborough St. bars, the IHop and the “rotating” Holiday Inn!  Sorry.  I get worked up over this topic since Sadlack’s was torn down.  The only gripe  I have about the designers of this logo is that they entered multiple times using the same basic half new / half old tree design.  Don’t stuff the ballot box, just enter your best.

This one coulda been a contender.  It’s green, round, has oak leaves, an elegant font….but the acorn looks like an eggplant!!
Come on, designer, you blew it!  An acorn is short and squatty and does NOT look like a circumcised penis!  Other than that small defect, I like this one.

The “surprised acorn” design.   I still like it because it shows the skyline in an appropriately proportioned acorn, even though it kinda reminds me of a snow globe.

This one is cool.   I like the casual font as the top of the acorn.  The only drawback is that it looks more like a logo for a coffee shop.  Brown is not a good color for ANYTHING other than coffee shops and grandpa sweaters.   Brown is a neutral color.  Who wants to be neutral???  From color-meanings.comBrown does not seek attention at all, it prefers to stay in the background, so others around it can shine.”   Charlotte would love Raleigh to have this logo.   Still nice, though.

This is my winner (other than my design, of course).  Great colors.  Very portable….I can see this on letterhead, tee shirts, hats, golf balls and other marketing material.  It’s bold and new.
It also resembles the letter “R” and the triangle (get it?) is a nice touch.  Kudos to whoever designed this one.  Your design is a solid second place to moi.

To see all of the designs in the contest, visit GreatRaleigh.com!



City of Raleigh blows $250K on a logo that blows

The city of Raleigh, North Carolina recently adopted a new city logo that cost them nearly $250,000.   Raleigh is now the  “City of Ferns” instead of the City of Oaks…or is that a palm branch?  Or is it a feather duster?   While the old logo looked like a passport stamp, this is no improvement.   It even has the optical illusion of leaning to the right if you stare at it long enough.   I was clowning around on a Raleigh Facebook page and posted some logos that I came up with in about five minutes.   While this one is facetious, it is more “Raleigh” than the fern.   Anyone that remembers the NCSU student Barrel Man sculpture from 2009 will know that it captures the orange barrel culture that has dominated Raleigh since …oh…about 1971.
I also did this one, which is a bit more serious, with a free clip art of an oak tree.   Download the pic, change it to green, add a nice font, save…voilà!  $250K in 5 minutes!   Many posters from the Raleigh forum actually like this much better than the new logo.

So let’s compare the new $250K Raleigh logo to other cities and towns in North Carolina.   I’m going to rate them from WORST to FIRST and give you my opinion on each.

WORST – Raleigh.  See logo above.   While simple is usually good, this logo does not expand on any existing branding.  It is not an oak.  It is a fern.   It also loses all of its punch in black and white.    Okay, let’s see logos from around the state!

NEXT TO LAST – Asheville – Wow.  What a boring logo for a town that prides itself in eclecticism, diversity, freakiness, art, culture, etc.  Where are the rainbows, hippies, drums?….Heck, how about some mountains?  Horrible logo.

Chapel Hill –  A picture of Athena, the Greek god of who knows what is in the middle of a circle.  “Athena was born from Zeus after he experienced an enormous headache and she sprang fully grown and in armor from his forehead”  (credit Wikipedia).  What does this logo say about the town?  A UNC logo would probably be better.

Cary –   Is this a fried egg?…okay, no, it’s a dogwood blossom, I think.  I do like how they incorporate Parks and Recreation into the logo.  Cary certainly has one of the best P&R departments in the state.   But the logo is too round.  At least it’s not beige.

Fayetteville –  Not so sure a slave auction block should be the center point of a logo and it looks very 1950ish, but in the city’s defense they’ve done an outstanding job of making this landmark a symbol of how far we’ve come.  And downtown Fayetteville is beautiful.    They also have a nondescript  cursive writing symbol that looks like the local calligraphist did it.  Good for letterhead, but not much of a logo.

Durham – When I looked up Durham’s logo, I actually expected to see a ballpark or water tower or Gothic Duke in the logo.  I have not researched the stripes or the stars to know what they mean, so somebody should fill me in.  I’m assuming the 1869 is the date of its incorporation or maybe the first of Duke’s basketball championships.  The fact that it causes confusion to a long time NC resident places it in the middle of my rankings.

Winston-Salem – My hometown logo is nice.  But what does it say about the city?   It looks more like a logo for a newspaper.   We’re the “Twin City”!  I guess it’s better than a logo depicting Joe Camel or Stroh’s beer.    How about something Moravian or Old Salem-ish?

Greensboro – I gotta hand it to Greensboro.  This logo is much better than many in our state.   You will remember this logo even if the name of the city is not underneath.   And it’s shaped like a “G”!   Having lived in Greensboro for a few years, I might have incorporated luggage into the logo since it is somewhat of a suitcase town.   Overall, this is a clean, crisp logo.  Good job, G-boro!

Charlotte – This is sweet and simple.  The Queen City.   Charlotte has had their brand for years and they’re not going to lose it with this logo, unlike Raleigh.   Very classy.  Good job, Charlotte!  Wooo!

High Point – This logo just screams “WE ARE BIG TIME! INTERNATIONAL EVEN!! GLOBAL!”   And High Point is big time a couple months per year during the furniture market.   It is REMARKABLE that HP has kept the market in their town all these years and it is a testament to the phrase “image is everything”.  Great logo.

Apex – I really had a hard time keeping this logo from the top spot.  It is just really cool.  It epitomizes Apex.   Old vs Modern.  Railroad track is a landmark.  It even shows the town on top of a hill..aka apex.  And they dropped the corny “Peak of Good Living” moniker!   It  may be a bit cluttered from a design standpoint and looks a bit like the Sesame Street set, but I understand it is still being tweaked.  But the best thing about this logo is that it was designed by a local citizen in response to a contest the  Town of Apex sponsored.  The winner got $500…not $5000…not $50,00….and certainly not $250,00 like the Raleigh designer got.   GREAT logo, Apex!

Finally….the city logo I think is the best.

Wilmington – So simple, but says it all about this coastal town.  This logo oozes coolness.  The wave is so simple, but I love the way it flows through the dignified font.