Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Quirky Roadside Attractions: The Day we almost Died

Our scariest, most harrowing vacation moment took place in Pine Bluffs, WY on our way to Bushnell, NE. I had read about the Our Lady of Peace Shrine, a giant statue of the Virgin Mary located right off the highway. Erected in 1998 by Ted and Marjorie Trefren, this statue is largest sculpture in Wyoming and one of the largest Marian Memorials in the United States. Like a good Catholic girl, I had planned a quick stop here because – let’s face it – when do you ever get to see a Virgin Mary statue that is THAT big? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an address for it other than ‘you can’t miss it from the highway.’ (And once we eventually found it, that certainly WAS the case, but the important part of that equation is being on the RIGHT highway to see it from.)

This cloud looked like Jesus to me so I was convinced we were going the right way.

We came into Pine Bluffs from U.S. Route 30 (aka the Lincoln Highway) when in fact, the Statue is located along I-80. After driving around with puzzled looks on our faces as to how we could miss this giant statue, we pulled into the town to do some quick Google searches. The New Yorker in me was pretty on edge – being on a desolate street in a sleepy town…I was almost waiting for an ambush. But I quickly found some coordinates for the statue and punched them into GPS. We were back on track. (The town of Pine Bluffs is quite cute and darling!)

A left here and a right there, our GPS lead us to a residential street. Could the statue be visible from there? We drove on, even after our GPS told us to navigate off road for the next mile. It was at that moment we realized that our GPS was out to murder us as it directed us to drive off a cliff. Both terrified, we decided that the statue was not worth our lives so we turned the car around and proceeded into Nebraska. (Now you understand why we were just too scared to get out of the car there…we had nearly DIED moments earlier!)

Sweet victory came about an hour later on our drive back to Denver. We were stopping to take pictures at the ‘Welcome to Wyoming’ sign and there she was! Just as described – off the highway. Like, you literally CANNOT miss it as you cross the border into Wyoming on I-80.

Below are some written directions that I found online. Proceed with caution.

I-80 exit 1 in Nebraska. Drive north a quarter-mile to US 30, turn left (west), drive into Wyoming, and take the first left onto Statue Drive.


Traci said...

That's a great story! She was obviously looking out for you. I sometimes think our GPS is out to get us, too. When we're on road trips, we use the Roadside America app in our GPS, and it goes "ding" when we get close to a quirky site worth stopping for.

--Traci from the Go BIG or Go Home blog

Stephanie said...

You're so right! I never thought of it that way. I am going to check out that app. Would be great to have for our next roadtrip!

PS - love your blog! Thanks for stopping by mine :)

Anonymous said...

In the veeerrry long drive from DeKalb, IL to Cheyenne on I-80, which starts to make a coffee-pot water-tower seem fascinating, I have been grateful for the many travelers before me who posted info on boredom are lie vers along the way. Your comment about a New Yorker being afraid of being ambushed in Pine Bluffs, NE was f-ing hilarious. As a good Catholic girl myself, I'm on my way to Exit 1 right now. Thanks for the chuckle.