One complaint we occasionally get from Inmates is that we rarely say anything negative about the things we cover. There is a good reason for that, at least with my work, and that is simply that I think it’s a waste of your and my time to write about duds. Why bother?
But I’ve taken your complaints to heart. When I discovered a list of United States tourist attractions that exploredplanet.com reckoned were a waste of time and money, I looked through them and selected a few that I thought might interest motorcyclists—and then tried to warn you about them. Here we go with some spots which, according to the website, people say travelers should avoid.
This Shell Service Station is a Shell, All Right. Yup.
The Shell Service Station in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina, has been around for 90 years. It is the only one remaining out of the eight that were built in the area, and it has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Preservation North Carolina, an organization dedicated to the preservation of historic sites, spent one year and $50,000 to bring the landmark station back to its original condition.
Exploredplant.com notes that “there isn’t much else for visitors to do” other than look at it; the shell is an office for Preservation North Carolina, and a bit of a museum.
Four Corners Monument is… Nowhere, Man
The Four Corners Monument allegedly marks the point where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico border each other. It’s the only place in the US where four states’ borders supposedly meet. That’s kind of cool, but the website notes that “it’s in the middle of nowhere, so all there is to do is take photos and stand around without cell phone service or wi-fi”. That’s not quite true; Grandma’s Frybread Shack and Navajo Tacos are just down the road.
Why “allegedly” and “supposedly”? Well, there are reports that the monument lines don’t match the real borders.
Feel Alienated in Roswell, New Mexico
In 1947 a weather balloon crashed near Roswell, New Mexico (or so they say!), but in the late 1970s there emerged theories by UFO believers which claimed that it had actually been an alien spacecraft and the military was trying to cover it up while they reverse-engineered the craft.
Fans of aliens, space travel, and UFOs picked up on these theories and flocked to Roswell. As a result the town is now filled with alien and UFO tchotchkes and other memorabilia. There are buildings shaped like they’re from outer space and too many alien outlets to count. Plenty of bike parking. “It’s probably one of the kitschiest tourist attractions in America,” says the website dismissively, “and can be seen in less than a day.”
Beale Street Will Give You the Blues
“Beale Street in Memphis is significant in the history of American music because it’s where early blues performers played shows in the 1920s,” admits exploredplanet.com. “But as the years passed, Beale Street has turned corporate and come say it lacks its original blues culture. Tourists end up losing their money paying for overpriced food and drinks in a loud, overcrowded part of town.”
Nevertheless, in my own experience the street is still exciting and worth visiting for its blues clubs and restaurants as well as the free street music. The site does say, though, that places like Overton Square and the Cooper-Young area offer a more authentic representation of Memphis.
Hollywood’s Walk of Nothing Much
“In a recent survey,” says the website, “the Hollywood Walk of Fame was ranked as the most overrated tourist attraction in America.” Having seen more than a few of the other attractions I must say that while this sounds like a big claim, it could be right. Why? “Because of the crowds, pick-pocketers, and the fact that you get the point within two minutes.”
There haven’t been all that many famous Hollywood stars, by the looks of it. The Walk of Fame is only about two blocks long. Very sensibly, exploredplanet.com notes that “there are plenty of other sights to see in Hollywood.”
Fifty Bucks and No Flood
No doubt about it, Kentucky is a dark and bloody expensive ground – at least when you sample the Ark Encounter And Creation Museum. Though the “replica” of Noah’s ark stands at an impressive 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, it’s just an ark-shaped building which shows you fake animals that you could just as easily find – alive – in a zoo.
“Seeing Noah’s ark in real life isn’t as exciting when the cost of admission is an arm and a leg,” notes exploredplanet.com sensibly. It costs $50 to get in. Mind you, Kentucky has some wonderful motorcycle roads. Might be better to keep riding, in this case.
Mainely (stet)Plastic Camels
The Desert Of Maine obviously generated some honest annoyance among the people whom exploredplanet.com consulted for its list of dud tourist attractions. I’m going to quote the entire outraged listing:
“If you’ve ever been to a desert, or even have merely seen one on television or the internet, you already know what to expect: a whole lot of nothing but sand. That’s where The Desert of Maine is a huge disappointment as it’s surrounded by pine trees.
“The plastic camels dispersed all over the place only underscore how much this attraction is a faux desert meant to swindle tourists with pointless sand souvenirs. If you want to visit a relatively small patch of sand, try the beach. It’s more fun.” Hoo wee, now tell us what you really think…