Beyond Garden Gnomes

September 14, 2012

If you were speeding along in a car on the road from Haines to Haines Junction in Alaska, the above scene might seem normal -- a young kid on a bike pedaling up the driveway, the American and Alaska state flags flying. You might wonder why the family had a phone both out by the road.

On a bicycle, however, a second and third glance over revealed something was wrong. The kid on the bike wasn't moving. The child either had amazing balance … or ???

We turned around and pedaled back for a closer look, followed by much laughter.

This roadside tableau was staged. The kid was a mannequin dressed up in a rain jacket, his bicycle cleverly stabilized by rods or wires. The phone both had no phone wire running to it, and several other phones were tacked on to the trunks of nearby trees.

A headless plastic skeleton lay in a heap at the base of one tree, it's head in a bird cage next to yet another pay phone attached to the trunk.

The owners weren't out to answer our questions. Was this a Halloween display that had lingered on? A practical joke that changed from month to month? Whatever their intention, Kat and I both agreed it was a lot more entertaining than plastic deer or garden gnomes.

Photos by Willie Weir


SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at


Rachel September 20, 2012, 3:43 PM

Wow! That is indeed a very cool garden. Lovely post indeed!

Rachel @ (

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