Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
June 3, 2013
Bug scientists tell us that this is the summer of the 17-Year Cicadas. From North Carolina to Connecticut, an estimated 30 billion of these big, noisy insects will crawl out of the ground — where they’ve been since 1996 — swarm, mate, and die. Not much of a life… but since they’ll be airborne and mobile, we thought we’d suggest some travel destinations they can visit that weren’t open yet the last time they were around. You can join them for a 17-Year-Cicada Grand Tour, if don’t mind the bug splatter on your car.
Wheels are a cicada’s mortal enemy, particularly when thousands of bugs are carpeting a road. This museum helps foster understanding by showcasing hundreds of vintage American motorcycles, some so quirky you almost wouldn’t mind being hit by one.
With their hard carapaces, bulky bodies, and fearsome buzz, cicadas are the airborne tanks of insectdom. William Gasser loves tanks; he’s collected hundreds of the full-size war machines, and displays them in a vast former tool factory.
West Virginia: Point Pleasant, Home of Mothman
The monstrous Mothman is a dark hero for every bug that’s been slapped around by humans. Mothman terrorized the citizens of Point Pleasant in the 1960s — and now the town celebrates its tormentor with a Mothman statue, museum, and annual festival.
A museum guaranteed to make a cicada feel good about its quickie life span. The human pathology specimens in this museum — which moved into in a sleek new facility in 2011 — range from painfully giant kidney stones to a “megacolon.”
Bug vengeance personified, this time as a beast that destroys cicada-splattering cars. Miles the Monster is the mascot of Dover International Speedway, made of concrete that has somehow come to life, posed as if about to smash a vehicle to smithereens.
Only the astronauts who’ve ridden the Human Centrifuge — the largest in the world — truly appreciate the G-forces endured by swarming cicadas. The centrifuge is here because only Pennsylvania’s bedrock could withstand its insectlike torque.
No bug could pass this place by, with its wall-mounted display of giant insect heads and plenty of “live touching stations” to better the bond between insects and humans. It almost makes you forget that the place is run by an exterminator company.
Spies, like cicadas, often lay hidden as “sleepers” for years, waiting for a trigger to send them into action. There’s a whole exhibit devoted to “bugs” in the Spy Museum, as well as mementoes such as James Bond’s Aston Martin and a “Kiss of Death” lipstick pistol.
The compound eyes of a cicada are mimicked in the kaleidoscopic vision of this modern-day hippie-built attraction. It’s a ten-minute sound-and-light show of frenzied fractal imagery —- like a planetarium on acid, man.
Parts of the world view a swarm of cicadas like a herd of candy on wings: mmm, mmm good! Cicadas can identify with ending up in someone’s mouth — so they appreciate a visit to the factory that makes PEZ, a tasty distraction that keeps Americans from noticing the flying snacks in their midst.
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