Saturday, April 17, 2010

On the Way to the Beach I Saw a Duck

The Great American Road Trip goes hand and hand with Beach Pop Culture. Years ago, people didn't surf the web for travelocity deals or plan every detail of their journey through trip advisor-- if your family was taking a vacation, you just got in the car and drove. I can still remember the steps: your parents packed the car, then they packed you in, and then you drove, testing how long you could make it before needing a pitstop!

These road trips allowed for something kinda special-- the element of surprise. Sometimes, along the way, you would pass a real roadside gem-- something so kitschy you begged your parents to stop. For me, the roadside attraction that always struck me was The Big Duck. Built in 1931 by Riverhead duck farmer Martin Maurer, this 20 foot tall, 30 foot long structure even features red tail lights from a Model T Ford for eyes (they kinda glow red at night!). Maurer used the structure as a store to sell his Peking Ducks to passing travelers.

The Big Duck's roadside location has shifted over the years, but to date it still stands in Flanders, and I smile every time I pass it on the drive out to Montauk. A few weeks ago, I indulged myself, and stopped (yes, I stopped), breakfast in hand, and sat at one of the nearby picnic tables to pay homage to this giant that watched over so many of my trips to the beach growing up. He may not be number one on trip advisor, but he's tops on the Blue Gull Beach House's list!

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