Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Enchanted Highway: Road of Anticipation

Welcome to the NDICA!
We wanted to start this blog off with a bang, so here is North Dakota’s very own “Enchanted Highway,” one of the most impressive stretches of highway known to humankind. This 32 mile journey is home to eight monumental metal sculptures, wide open plains, a handful of pheasants, three towns and not much else.

Artist Gary Greff created this attraction as a way to bring traffic and business to his hometown of Regent, ND. We for sure wouldn’t have gone without the Enchanted Highway guiding us there! You can check out the full story at

We started out in our mini van with no idea of what to expect. The Enchanted Highway is advertised from the interstate with a handful of signs, and the first sculpture looms over the interstate, beckoning you to check it out.

Driving up the gravel road to the first sculpture, Geese in Flight, you are welcomed by a flock of crudely cut black metal geese pointing you up to the parking lot. The sculpture is a massive eye shaped structure (110 feet tall) supporting 10 westward facing geese, the largest with a wingspan of 30 feet. This thing is impressively giant, and fronted by a strange pieced and spray painted sheet metal barricade/mountain range. The support cables became a lovely part of the piece as well.

The next sculpture was three miles down the road, and as with all of them, could be seen from miles away. Deer crossing, although it looked more like a lamb and a reindeer, was also mind blowing in scale (as you can see from the tiny people in the photo). And it came with a freakishly weird and unexpected sheet metal maze somewhat reminiscent of a cattle chute, which was surprisingly fun to interact with, and made this stop worth pulling over for.

Grasshoppers Delight is next in the lineup. This piece made good use of variation in scale and came with a bonus jungle gym and rideable grasshoppers on springs. While some of the giant metal wheat stalks were broken and falling over, the rope lights adorning the baby grasshoppers made it all the more enchanting.

photo for scale:

Five miles down the road, we came across Fishman’s Dream, which looked a bit more like a nightmare to us. I mean, if I caught a fish at least 10 times my size that was also made out of metal, I would be concerned. The surprise activity at this site was a sunken ship that was not so child friendly due to the swarming insects and jagged edges. It did, however serve to add to the feeling of adventure and created more of an experience to include you in the piece. Also there was a killer robin nesting in some seaweed.

Pheasants in the Prairie had a lovely silhouette from miles away. The family of mesh-bodied birds greeted you from the road with wide-eyed surprise, and once again shocked and awed us with massive scale.

Up next is Teddy Rides Again. North Dakota loves its Theodore Roosevelt history, and he shows up just about everywhere. This piece included a horse drawn carriage that could be climbed into, which of course we did. Teddy was essentially a line drawing made from plumbing pipe of some kind.

Next was the Tin Family. This was the first piece created, and also probably a learning experience for the artist. It was creepy, not to mention the crows nesting in it. But it was big!

The last piece was Whirly Gigs, which brought us into the bustling town of Regent. We drove past it before realizing where the grand finale was. Turns out, it was the contraption next to the gift shop which involved moving parts when the green button was pressed. The gift shop was a treat in and of itself. The sign on the door assured us that it was indeed open, all we needed to do was call one of the phone numbers listed below. We took a photo op moment with the couple we met from Ohio instead.

Overall, the experience was not what we expected, but who could expect such an impressive undertaking in the middle of nowhere! Was it weird? Yes. Was it awesome? Yes. Was it worth the gas and time? You betcha.