The Worst-Smelling Towns In America

cattleLast week, I was in Eureka, California, for a couple of days with my parents and brother’s family. Despite the cute, historic downtown and an epic feast at the renown Samoa Cookhouse, our overwhelming impression of this coastal city is that it should be renamed “Eureeka,” because it stinks – literally.

The stench of … bait fish? Fish meal or perhaps cat food processing enveloped our hotel, and that’s just not an aroma that stimulates the pleasure center of the brain. It was like living in a bucket of chum.

My niece and nephew, 12 and 16, respectively, suggested I write a piece for Gadling on the stankiest places in America, and I’m more than happy to oblige. In addition to personal picks, my fellow Gadsters were only too happy to (cow) chip in.

Coalinga, California
Anyone who’s driven I-5 past the famous cattle stockyards knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Yellowstone National Park, and Thermopolis, Wyoming
These two famous attractions may stink of sulfur, but they’re worth putting up with the fumes.

Pago Pago, American Samoa
Think giant fish cannery.fishChinatowns, everywhere
Special mention goes to NYC on a breezeless summer’s day.

Greeley, Colorado
Let’s just say that being the home of one of America’s largest beef abattoirs has far-reaching consequences if the wind is right, which it usually is.

Gilroy, California
Depending upon your feelings about garlic, the nation’s largest producer of the stuff is heaven or hell (personally, I choose the former).

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Its unofficial nickname is “The City of Five Smells,” due to the grain processing plants located there. Like roasting coffee, not always an olfactory pleasure.

Gary, Indiana
According to one Gadling contributor, this city famously smells like, “coke (a coal by-product), steel, and sadness.” Apologies to residents of Gary but this one came up more than once.

Got any picks of your own? We’d love to hear your votes for America’s smelliest town!

[Photo credits: cattle, Flickr user St0rmz; fish, Flickr user amandamandy]

How to Prevent Fish Smell

Roadside California: World’s Largest Artichoke

What else are you going do when you come to the “Artichoke Capital of the World” (as the sign to Castroville, California boasts)?

Two things: take a photo next to the World’s Largest Artichoke and sample all-things-artichoke.

The giant artichoke sculpture is quickly visible once you get off Highway 156, just north of Monterey. Built in 1963, it’s made of concrete and rebar and stands 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide. It’s definitely popular, as far as vegetables go–on a recent stop there, kids hung from the sculpture’s protruding leaves, and a couple from LA posed for photos in front of it.

Next door at the Giant Artichoke Restaurant, a friend and I shared the giant artichoke platter: large steamed artichoke, fried artichoke hearts, and artichoke bread ($11.41). As someone who grew up enjoying playing with her food–and naturally loving artichokes–I was in heaven. Especially with those fried niblets.
And it turns out, it doesn’t matter what meal you’re there for–artichokes are always on the menu. Breakfast: artichoke eggs benedict ($9.99). Lunch: artichoke salad ($9.49). Dinner: artichoke pasta stir fry ($12.49).

Since 1959, Castroville has hosted an Artichoke Festival every May, but even before that it has crowned an Artichoke Queen. You might recognize the very first Artichoke Queen, crowned in 1947. Her name: Norma Jean, who went on to become Marilyn Monroe.

Appropriately, nearby Gilroy and Salinas have their own salad-inspiring monikers. Gilroy is the “Garlic Capital of the World” (and yes, you can smell it) and Salinas is the “Lettuce Capital of the World.”

Stinkiest Festival Around: Gilroy’s Garlic Fest

My dad was the king of garlic. I know many people think they own that title, but consider this: My dad thought that a clove of garlic meant the whole bulb. And a ‘clove’ of garlic went into virtually everything he made. He put garlic salt on MELON, for the love of all things sacred. I’m not nearly as extreme but garlic is definitely a major staple of my diet.

If you think your love of Garlic can match my dad’s, perhaps you should head to the Bay Area for the weekend of July 27-29th? One of North America’s stinkiest (and most flavourful) towns is hosting one of North America’s stinkiest (and most flavourful) festivals — the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Don’t eat beforehand because you’ll get to sample some creative garlic inventions, including garlic fries and garlic ice cream. Plus, enjoy live music and demonstrations, all for a $12 admission fee.

But a word of advice: Don’t plan any important meetings (like job interviews or first dates) for at least a couple of days. Trust me on this one.

Via Daily Travel Deal Blog