RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Roadside Marvels

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Elbe, Washington

Contributed by Aaron Reed & Tamara Dwyer of Austin, Texas
Aspen Zoe

Aaron Reed was on road trip in August to the Pacific Northwest and describes his encounter with this big giraffe:

"…Funny story, that. We'd gotten a bit off-track in the Gilford Pinchot National Forest (and like many wrong turns, that one led us to some marvelous vistas); consequently, we were running a couple of hours behind-schedule. After crossing the Cowlitz River at Elbe, Wash., I took a right, following the signs to the Nisqually Lodge in Ashford (just outside the eastern entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park).

Between Elbe and Ashford, my headlights caught the giraffe-shape craning its neck over a fence. I didn't know if I was hallucinating or if someone really had a giraffe in a pasture there. I actually turned around to look at it again. The next morning (after overnighting in an honest-to-God caboose back in Elbe -- the lodge was full), we drove that stretch again and stopped to take a picture. I wish we'd taken the time to tour the entire sculpture park…"

The artist behind this 17-foot tall creation is Dan Klennert. Many of his sculptures are on display in a four-acre park he calls Ex-Nihilo - Latin for "Out of nothing." It's an appropriate name, because Klennert creates his sculptures out of discarded junk. You can read more about his work and see some excellent photos online at "Recycled: Spirits of Iron." The sculpture park is open all year, and Klennert's gallery is gallery is open to the public May to October, 10 am to 7 pm. Admission is free, donations are accepted. The artist can be reached here.

Ex-Nihilo Sculpture Park (pronounced "Ex Nee-Hill-o")
About three miles east of Elbe, on WA State Route 706
Near the west entrance to Mount Rainier National Park
Elbe, WA 98330

Photographed by Aaron Reed 8/15/08
Posted on RoadTrip America 9/08

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