Monday, August 20, 2012

Odd Products

 Who, mi?

As drunk by Lawrence of Arabica

It's win or get eaten, I guess


 Made in Chin, I presume

Lost and found

Look out: he's behind you!

State Mottos

Road trips are a long-established American tradition immortalised in films from 'Easy Rider' and 'Thelma & Louise' to 'National Lampoon's Vacation'. And even though most workers get very little paid leave (rarely more than two weeks a year), families will routinely travel long distances by car to their holiday destinations. By this I don't mean three to four hours, as we Europeans might drive. I'm talking ten hours, two days, even three - in each direction, of course.

Whenever we visit a tourist hotspot like a national park, my kids therefore like to play a game that might be called "Where Am I From?" This involves combing through parking lots checking car number-plates, which are issued individually by each state, to see which vehicle came from the furthest away.

The results of this game can be amazing: on a recent visit to Yellowstone in Wyoming, we discovered a car registered in New York, a state some 2200 miles away.

Another interesting aspect of US licence plates is that they almost always feature a slogan designed, presumably, to entice tourists to that particular state. Because these are so interesting and sometimes intriguing, we have begun collecting these catchphrases too.

Some slogans tout the relevant state's geographic features. This is the case with number plates from Arizona ("The Grand Canyon State"), Michigan ("Great Lakes Splendor"), West Virginia ("Wild, Wonderful"), Vermont ("The Green Mountain State") and Minnesota ("10,000 Lakes"). Others are less subtle in their bid to woo visitors: Louisiana, for instance, claims to be "The Sportsman's Paradise", Utah purports to have "The Greatest Snow on Earth", and Maine manages to top even that, declaring itself simply "Vacationland".

Certain states, like Illinois ("Land of Lincoln"), Delaware ("The First State"), Tennessee ("The Volunteer State"), Oklahoma ("Native America")
and Connecticut ("The Constitution State"), trumpet their historical significance, although for some reason both North Carolina ("First in Flight") and Ohio ("Birthplace of Aviation") appear to lay claim to the same achievement. While the likes of Alaska ("The Last Frontier"), New Hampshire ("Live Free or Die") and Texas ("The Lone Star State") bluster about their rugged independence.

California and Colorado apparently need no introduction whatsoever because their number plates feature only their name. Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, New Mexico ("Land of Enchantment"), Missouri ("The Show-Me State"), Massachusetts ("The Spirit of America"), Indiana ("The Crossroads of America")  and Arkansas ("The Natural State") seem to have no real claim to fame, which is presumably why they've opted for a vaguer, esoteric slogan.

With all these grandiloquent slogans gracing the cars across this great nation, you can't but feel sorry for the poor motorists of Idaho, a state roughly the size of Britain. What battle cry did their legislators pick to encapsulate this state's wide-ranging attractions and bring the world's tourists flocking to Idaho's glorious vistas?

"Famous Potatoes".