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Quirky Bits from our US Road Trip: wrecks, bats and RVs!

by | Museums and places of historical interest, Road Trips | 18 comments

When travelling, we sometimes come across some really unexpected, quirky places, exhibits or stories. Our last road trip through some of the eastern and southern states of the US was no exception. Here are a few such examples – in no particular order.

The National Corvette Museum

Bear with me. I am not really a Corvette girl, though I do like cars and sports cars. This is not because I dislike the Corvette; it is just that they are not a part of the British scene and I am not really familiar with them. All of that aside, there was no way Peter was going past the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky without going in.

Living the Dream banner outside the NCM

Outside the National Corvette Museum

If you like Corvettes, this is place is heaven. If you just like sports cars, you can spend a happy afternoon exploring.  An introductory video presentation explains the evolution of the Corvette and there are examples on display from every generation throughout the museum, as well as some specimens that were owned by the rich and famous.

Roy Orbison owned several corvettes

Roy Orbison’s motor

Lots of cars to drool over and they are all beautiful and polished and shiny……except for one exhibit!

The Quirky Bit?

In 2014 a giant sink hole opened up beneath the museum and swallowed up 8 pristine, extremely valuable Corvettes. They tumbled about 30 feet down into the hole, landing in a tangled mess of twisted metal and rubble.

Corvettes covered in rubble

Corvettes which fell into the sink hole

This event took place in the early hours of the morning and the whole thing was caught on the security cameras. This amazing footage can be viewed in the museum. Not only that, you can see the very corvettes back on display in the exact same spot from which they fell, covered in rocks and debris, all beaten and battered!

The exhibit featuring the trashed cars

Trashed corvettes!

In a stroke of genius, the museum made an exhibit of this event. Two of the less damaged cars have been restored, but the others are still mangled and covered in dirt.

Picture of the less damaged cars

Two of the less damaged cars have been restored

Visitors can walk around the perimeter of the sink hole (covered over after the cars were extracted) which has been marked out by a red line on the floor. In addition, the museum has thoughtfully installed a viewing port so that visitors can look down into the sink hole and marvel at how far these cars fell.

Looking down through the port hole

Looking down into the sink hole

I love this quirky story. No one was hurt. The number of visitors to the museum increased exponentially to see this phenomenon and the museum has an amazing new display.

The Bats of Austin

Austin is the state capital of Texas and we really enjoyed our visit there.  We met up with friends, Allison and Mark, who showed us round their home town.

Cycling around Austin

The view from Mount Bonnell in Austin

We got out and about along some of the great cycling tracks along the river and ate out at some really characterful restaurants, for example, the Hula Hut. ( – one of Peter’s old haunts when he was in Austin “on business”!)

In the Hula Hut for cocktails and food!

Mexican food for Sunday brunch at the restaurant Fonda San Miguel

One of the really noticeable things in Austin is just how many people are out jogging. All the time! We were really impressed. Admittedly, we were staying quite close to the river at the very conveniently located Pecan Grove RV Park and there are lots of good running tracks there, but even so, I don’t think I have ever visited a place where so many people were out getting fit.

The Quirky Bit?

About a million and a half bats hang out under the Congress Avenue Bridge  in the heart of Austin.  As you walk under the bridge during the day, there is no visible sign of them – other than the street art painted on to the bridge (and the rather pungent odour!).

A bat painted on to the bridge.

At dusk every night, however, they put on an amazing display.  Imagine a million and a half bats swarming out from under the bridge as they venture out into the countryside in search of food! Apparently they eat about 20 tons of bugs every night. Yum!

Bats in the Austin skyline

It is an amazing sight and the crowds gather on and under the bridge to watch.

People gather on the bridge to watch

This quirky phenomenon takes place at dusk every night from spring through to early November when they migrate south. Nature is awesome!

The National RV Museum

Our RV was made in Elkhart, Indiana. I think about 90% of RVs in the US are probably made in Elkhart. It really is the RV Capital of the World!

We had decided to visit as we had a minor problem with the RV and it seemed like a good idea to take it back to where it was made to get it fixed under warranty.

The Quirky Bit?

A whole museum devoted to the RV! Motorhomes, trailers, fifth wheels, pop ups….they are all there.

It is fitting that the National RV Museum is sited in Elkhart and whilst we were there we decided to pay a visit. And it was really interesting!

On display is the oldest RV in the world.

Built in 1913, this is believed to be the oldest travel trailer in the world

And were you aware that Mae West had her own personal RV

Mae West’s RV

And as well as aviation, Charles Lindbergh was into camping in his RV!

Me inside Charles Lindbergh’s travel trailer!

And lots of others!

Visitors are allowed inside some of the exhibits, including this very early Winnebago

A whole museum devoted to campers and caravans! Who knew?!

These are just some of the quirky and interesting places and stories we came across on this trip. There were lots, some of which can be read about in The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation (why is there a restored bus from Montgomery on display?), Monticello: Thomas Jefferson’s grand design (why did Jefferson make a hole in the floor of his house?) and Now for the whiskEy trail (why can going to work early be bad for you?)

 

If you like it, please pin it!

The wrecks in the National Corvette Museum

18 Comments

  1. These are some super unique locations! I love the RV and motor home museum!!

    Reply
    • I know, isn’t it brilliant?!

      Reply
  2. I love these quirky finds whilst out travelling, it just shows us we should look closer and pause more often when exploring in order to see these details. I love that they kept those cars and made them into a new exhibition, good way to make the most out of a bad situation and add something more of interest.

    Reply
    • Absolutely!

      Reply
  3. I enjoyed reading this being from the southern US. I didn’t even know about the Corvette museum let alone the sinkhole. That was a brilliant move by the museum to make it a luring attraction. It has my attention! I saw the bats in Austin this past August. I hadn’t been to Austin before then and didn’t know about that bats. It’s pretty incredible!

    Reply
    • I think the sink hole is a real draw for the museum. Silver linings and all that!

      Reply
  4. Of all that you mentioned in your quirky post, why did the bats stand out for me? 🙂 Maybe because they’re million and a half strong…searching for a dinner of 20 tons bugs! How do they get statistics like those?

    Reply
    • I wondered that myself! Must be an estimate based on a sample I assume.

      Reply
  5. The Corvette Museum seems awesome, even more so because of the sink hole! Talk about scary. Kind of a blessing in disguise since no one was hurt and traffic increased. Very cool. I love Austin too! I have family that lives there and it’s a great city, but it’s becoming crowded!

    Reply
    • I agree: we loved Austin.

      Reply
  6. Fun! I love these off-the-beaten-track, quirky sights! The RV museum looks super interesting and (unpopular opinion) I think bats are adorable so I´d love to check out that bridge. There´s a similar area outside of Chiang Mai in Thailand where the bats gather at dusk and it´s such an incredible sight!

    Reply
    • Absolutely. The bats are awesome!

      Reply
  7. I absolutely love quirky museums. I really want to visit The National RV Museum as I am a huge fan of RVs. I don’t have one (yet), but stayed in one for a year and think they are a great way to live a minimalist lifestyle.

    Reply
  8. Never been a big car antique car museum fan, but this caught my attention 😉 Loved the RV and campers. But the Corvette sink hole left me to think – could it be that now the museum attracts more visitors than before the incident?

    Reply
    • I think you are right. To my mind it was the best exhibit!

      Reply
  9. I am not really a car buff, but I absolutely have to go see the Corvette museum and see the new exhibit featuring the sinkhole disaster … I remember the news reports after it happened and watching the security camera feed at that time was mind-blowing.

    Reply
  10. Fun post! I love stuff like this so very happy to read your story. I’ve been by the National Corvette Museum no short of 100 times and have never been in. I really love car shows and museums but like you, I don’t really buy into Corvettes. Very cool that they left the mess there from the damage.

    Reply
  11. What a “quirky” post! No really, a fun article that if someone is looking to do something different than the average tourist, this gives them some new options. I liked the note about the runners and cyclists trails, as that is personally one way to see a new city. It looks like it would be a good way to run/bike along the river. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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Hello

Hello!  I’m Jane. I live in the Lake District in the north of England with my husband, Peter. We love to travel, but this is a great place to call home.

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