Vacation Photos

So I'm finally back in San Diego. I had a great vacation, but it involved a lot of driving which got tiring after a while, so it's good to be home. Here are a few of the hoax-related highlights of my trip (which started in Washington DC and ended in Minneapolis):

Grovers Mill
This is the one thing that I got a chance to post about (see below) while I was actually on the road, because the hotel I was staying at that night in Roxbury, NY happened to offer internet connection. But that turned out to be my last chance to connect to the internet during the trip.

The Cardiff Giant
After leaving Roxbury, NY we drove up to Cooperstown, NY. Most people visit Cooperstown to check out the Baseball Hall of Fame, but I'm not a baseball fan, so I was there to check out the Farmer's Museum, home of the Cardiff Giant. The Farmer's Museum turned out to be a lot more interesting than I expected. I thought it was going to be a museum full of tractors and other farm implements, but it's actually set up as a recreation of a 19th century farming community, complete with actors dressed in period costumes who pretend to be part of the community (kind of like Williamsburg). In the middle of the museum's grounds there's a carnival tent in which the Giant lies. An actor stands outside of the tent pretending to be a carnival barker, urging people to come on in and see the Giant. Once a crowd has gathered he explains the history of the Giant, and he actually did a really good job of telling the story right. I half expected that the museum would gloss over the religious aspects of the Giant's story, but the 'interpreter' made it very clear that the Giant was created by an atheist as a spoof of Biblical literalism.
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The next day (after spending the night in the Fingers Lake region of New York where we did some wine tasting), we drove to Buffalo and stopped off at the offices of the Center for Skeptical Inquiry (aka CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal). They're the publishers of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. I got a tour of their offices. Joe Nickell showed me around his office (center picture), and I posed for a shot with Ben Radford, editor of Skeptical Inquirer. Ben also had lunch with my wife and me before we took off for Niagara Falls.
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Marvin's Marvelous Museum
After visiting the Falls, and spending the night in Canada, the next hoax stop was Detroit, home of Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum. I didn't really know what to expect before I arrived at Marvin's Museum. All I knew was that he had on exhibit P.T. Barnum's fake copy of the Cardiff Giant (a fake of a fake, so to speak). But his small museum, tucked away in a strip mall in a Detroit suburb, turned out to contain so much more. I was completely blown away by it. Marvin's collected all kinds of bizarre coin-operated oddities. There are a few of the mechanical fortune tellers often found at carnivals, but he also has other coin-operated machines that are far more ghoulish and bizarre. For instance, there's a machine that recreates a man being electrocuted in an electric chair (it ends with smoke billowing out of the machine), as well as a machine that recreates (with extreme realism) a bum vomiting into a trash can. The pictures below show the outside of his museum, me posing with Marvin in front of the fake Cardiff Giant, and the electric chair exhibit (somewhat obscured by a flash).
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The Forevertron
After Detroit we drove through Michigan, crossed Lake Michigan by ferry, and spent a couple of days in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (where, by accident, we got to meet the mayor). But the next hoaxy thing we visited was the Forevertron, a piece of massive metal sculpture that doubles as an anti-gravity machine located in the middle of Wisconsin. Unfortunately we arrived on a day when the Forevertron happened to be closed, much to our disappointment. I could see the Forevertron in the distance if I peered over the fence, but I couldn't get up close to it. The lesson here was that we should have looked at the opening hours posted on the Forevertron website more closely (though we couldn't have changed our schedule anyway). However, the trip wasn't a complete waste. Down the road in the Wisconsin Dells we found a giant fake dinosaur looming above a gas station.
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In terms of hoaxes, that was pretty much it for the trip. After Wisconsin we drove to Minneapolis where we spent a couple of days visiting family. I got a chance to visit the Mall of America, but unfortunately that wasn't a hoax.


Posted on Mon Jul 18, 2005


Glad to see you survived it all, Alex. And good to see you back! 😊
Posted by Smerk  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  12:58 AM
I saw something on tv about the Forevertron, it's a right shame you missed it. Sounds like a great vacation otherwise, though.
Posted by Citizen Premier  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  03:27 AM
Sounds like you had fun!! Fantastic. Glad you're back!
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  05:02 AM
A holiday is nice, but it's always nicer to come home isn't it Alex. Well, we all missed you and are glad you're back.
Posted by Nettie  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  05:19 AM
a bum vomiting into a trashcan??? and with "extreme realism" no less. Marvin's Museum certainly sounds Marvelous.

The Judgement Day machine sounds interesting as well.
Posted by Chuck  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  07:08 AM
Well, it's about time you are you have any idea how hard it is to keep these people in line......I need a raise.....
Posted by X  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  07:41 AM
Welcome back, Alex. Glad you had a good time.
Posted by Boo  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  08:16 AM
sounds like a fantastic trip
Posted by RAMONESxMANIA  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  09:34 AM
good to know you had a good time!
thanks for the photos, personally i like the dinosaur :p
Posted by thunder  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  10:52 AM
Wow! Sounds like a great trip... and you got to see the fake giant and the real one! CSICOP is a neat group... I love the Skeptical Inquirer.
Posted by PlantPerson  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  01:49 PM
Oh, I love marvin's marvelous mechanical museum!! That's right down the street from where my grandparents live in west bloomfield, and when I was a kid my family would go visit them once a year and I'd always make my grandparents take me there. I haven't been there in a long time though. I'm definitely going to have to visit it again next time I get to michigan.

Sounds like you had a great time and got to see a lot of neat stuff.
Posted by Razela  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  02:42 PM
Welcome back Alex. Now, when can we order the book? 😊
Posted by Charybdis  on  Tue Jul 19, 2005  at  05:16 PM
If all goes well, the book will be coming out on April 1, 2006. I expect you'll be able to preorder it a month or two before then.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Jul 20, 2005  at  03:09 PM
And signed copies? Eh?
Posted by Boo  on  Wed Jul 20, 2005  at  03:12 PM
Hm, I was able to order Harry Potter seven months before it came out. Are you telling me that you're not in the same league? I'll still buy it anyway.😉
Posted by Charybdis  on  Wed Jul 20, 2005  at  03:25 PM
Welcome back, Alex!! Missed ya. 😊
Posted by Myst  on  Thu Jul 21, 2005  at  04:46 PM
"For instance, there's a machine that recreates a man being electrocuted in an electric chair (it ends with smoke billowing out of the machine), as well as a machine that recreates (with extreme realism) a bum vomiting into a trash can ..."

Next time somebody claims technology isn't making the world better and better, just show 'em this.
Posted by Big Gary C in Dallas  on  Tue Jul 26, 2005  at  05:35 PM
Thanks for posting your vacation comments and photos. It's great to see you put down the feather duster for the Museum of Hoaxes for a few days and take a well-deserved break to enjoy yourself.
Posted by Larry Adams  on  Tue Aug 02, 2005  at  04:04 PM
Very nicely put, glad that you had fun while seeing the innovative ways of technology - ref - electrocution chair. I have to say that the cardiff giant was actually created by an atheist, now that is something.
Posted by karthik cmouli  on  Sat Apr 12, 2008  at  05:16 PM
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