Planning a Family Road Trip? Don’t Miss These Offbeat Roadside Attractions

By Alex Perdikis

The family road trip is as American as apple pie. What better way to spend time with the entire family than embarking on an adventure? And, what better destination could there be than one of the many roadside attractions the U.S. has to offer?


“Whether you’re taking the family out just for the day or making a few stops on a longer trip, here are some captivating places you shouldn’t miss.”

— Alex Perdikis


DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum

What does a guy who discovered his first shipwreck at 14 do after 40 years of diving? If you’re Dale Clifton, you turn your collection of personal treasures into the DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum.

Thousands of ships wrecked off the Delaware coast, and many still lie at the bottom of the ocean. Nor’easters, hurricanes and natural phenomenon took their toll, but pirates were also to blame.

Thousands of ships wrecked during what’s called the Age of Sail, the time period from approximately 1571 to 1862. Many carried gold, jewels and other treasures. Pirates lured ships to shoals with fake lighthouses. Ship after ship crashed. The pirates quickly recovered the spoils.

The owner of the museum is a one-of-a-kind character. As a kid, Dale visited museums with shipwreck displays. Few had actual artifacts to show because they’d sold them. Dale decided he not only wanted to discover shipwreck treasures but he wanted to keep and display them for the world to see. That’s exactly what he did.

Artifacts on display include everyday cookware, sculptures carved from human bones, a FeeJee Mermaid, treasure chests, weapons, coins and silver and gold bars. Dale changes the display each January, so there’s always something new to gaze at.

The DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum is located on Fenwick Island. The museum sits over a shell shop in a strip mall. Admission is free.

Museum of Wonder

You don’t even have to leave your car to see awesome sights at the Museum of Wonder in Seale, Alabama. Artist and collector Butch Anthony created this masterful mix of art and oddities and the museum brings visitors from across the country.

Butch began collecting curiosities as a child, but his artistic destiny began when a turnip with an oddly human-looking “face” turned up in his garden. Butch’s friend, John Henry Toney, drew a face on the turnip. The friends jokingly stuck a $50 price tag on their masterpiece and placed it for sale in a local shop. Imagine their shock when someone actually bought it.

Butch became a well-respected and prolific artist. With fame came attention, however, something an artistic mind like Butch didn’t relish. He came up with the idea to turn shipping containers into outdoor display cases.

Butch installed windows and went to work on his exhibits. When it opened, the Museum of Wonder was the world’s first drive-thru museum. It was so popular in fact, that when word got out, so many visitors drove through that Butch had to repair the road.

Although Butch changes the displays periodically, some of the artifacts you might see include the World’s Largest Gallstone, the turnip & face that started it all and a terrifying collection of Sunday school instructional “aids” created by a minister in the 1930s. Apparently, the minister thought homemade models of his version of hell would keep children on the straight and narrow.

The Museum of Wonder is open 24-hours a day. Displays are backlit at night making some of them even more dramatic. The “self-service” museum requests a $1 per adult donation.

The Monster That Wouldn’t Die

If you and the children are up for a little monster fun, check out the Monster That Wouldn’t Die in West Virginia. An eerie experience in 1952 led to the creation of several must-see stops in and around the small town of Flatwoods.

In September 1952, beautician Kathleen May and National Guardsman Gene Lemon climbed to the top of a hill with five younger boys. They’d seen what appeared to be a flying saucer and hoped to get a better view from the hilltop.

They saw something, but it wasn’t a flying saucer. The terrified group looked on in horror as a monster came out of the mist and headed straight for them. The group ran, but later described a monster with a green body, searchlight-like eyes and a hooded head. A couple of witnesses also described clawed hands.

Although the sighting stirred up attention when it first happened, it was nearly forgotten over time. But, when Andrew Braxton became the Braxton County Visitors Bureau director, all that changed.

Andrew knew how the legend of the Mothman brought tourists and their dollars into another West Virginia town. Why couldn’t Flatwoods do the same with their monster?

His first step was to pay tribute to the monster, which he dubbed “Braxxie,”  with giant chairs. He painted the chairs with unique designs and placed them in strategic monster-related settings around Flatwoods and the surrounding area.

Andrew commissioned the same company that made the Mothman statue to create a Braxxie mascot. The Braxxie mascot debuted at the tourism fair in 2017. It was a huge hit.

To experience the Monster That Wouldn’t Die legend yourself, begin at the Flatwoods Monster Museum. Then take a tour of the monster chairs and end up at “The Spot” for some food, ice cream and a monster photo-op.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

5 Musts-Dos to Sell Your Used Car Right

By Alex Perdikis

Maybe you bought a new car and don’t need your old one. Or, maybe you inherited a car that’s not an antique, but not exactly something you want to drive, either. Whatever the reason, you’re thinking of trying to sell it yourself. But, where do you start?

Get Ready

Before you start placing ads everywhere, get ready. Prospective buyers need information before they hand over their hard-earned money for your used car and you’d better have it. You also have to protect yourself legally.

Here’s what you need to do before listing your used car for sale:

1. Write down the details. Document the year, make, model, mileage, average miles per gallon, number of previous owners, accidents involving the vehicle, maintenance records, mechanical problems and any other detail you know about the car in question.

2. How much is it worth? Look at the Kelly Blue Book (KBB) or Edmunds Appraisal sites to determine your car’s worth. To get an accurate assessment, answer the form questions honestly. Don’t set your sights on the price you get, however. More on that later.

3. How much are people in your area willing to pay? Check local print ads and sites like Craigslist to get a feel for prices where you live. Don’t look at dealer sales, but private party sales instead. That is the type of sale you’re engaging in.

Here’s a great tip. Check eBay’s used car sales. Particularly pay attention to prices on completed sales for cars similar to yours.

4. Check your title. Make sure you have a clean title. You will not be able to sell the car without a title and any liens have to be taken care of before you sell.

5. Meet inspection requirements. If you live in a state that requires inspections or certifications of any kind, check the laws governing your sale. Your car might have to pass inspections before you sell the car to someone else.

Price Me!

You have the KBB or Edmunds worth estimate and, if you did your research, you know how much people in your area pay for similar vehicles. Also, take into account the economic health and demographics of your region as you think about pricing.

The boring old sedan is in high demand for those with families on a budget. Sports cars and convertibles sell better in the summer and spring. Work trucks and vans are popular and can be competitively priced. Collector cars take longer to sell and are tricky to price, but the potential is high if you find the right buyer.


“Take into account any new parts, such as a new engine or tires. Also consider any negatives, including dents or rust spots.” — Alex Perdikis


Ask yourself how fast you want to sell it. If you don’t mind waiting, settle on a slightly higher price.

Initially, ask for more than you’re willing to settle for. Expect to negotiate with people. If, for example, you’d like to get $10,000 out of the deal, ask for $11,500. Most people offer down in $500 to $1000 increments. Asking more gives you a bit of leeway.

Pretty Me Up

Before you start showing the car, pretty it up. Take the time to wash it, vacuum the inside, clean the trunk and compartment areas, polish windows and wipe the steering wheel and dashboard down so they’re free of dust. If you’re up to the challenge, make low-cost repairs before you sell.

As an added buyer incentive, have your maintenance documentation and a vehicle history report ready to show. Even better, get a report from your regular mechanic about the car’s condition to show potential buyers.

Show the Car, But Protect Yourself

As people answer your Craigslist and print ads, it’s your job to evaluate them. If you don’t want people coming to your home, arrange to meet them in a public area.

Go with potential buyers as they test drive the vehicle. If they want to take the car to their own mechanic, take the car yourself or ride along. Let other people know where you are if you go anywhere with a potential buyer.

How Much?

Think ahead of time about how to handle the price negotiations. Below are a few examples of what buyers often say when they negotiate:

  • “What’s your bottom price?” Don’t see this as a sale if you greatly reduce your price. Stick to your asking price for the time being.
  • “This is my price. Take it or leave it.” Unless the price is acceptable, thank the person for coming and let them go. If they’re bluffing but interested, they may not leave after all.
  • “Will you take (specific amount)?” This person is interested but leaves the door open for you to counter offer.

Once you agree on a price, avoid problems by taking either cash or a cashier’s check. Don’t agree to accept payments over time or take a personal check.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Driving Emergencies — Avoidance & Survival

By Alex Perdikis

Modern cars are safer than ever, but that doesn’t mean you won’t face an emergency situation when you drive. You might be a great driver, but there are people on the road who are not. And, you certainly can’t control Mother Nature.

Sometimes bad things happen. Often, your chances of avoiding a serious injury and surviving depend on how well you prepare beforehand. You can’t control everything when you drive, but there are steps you can take now to lower the odds of having a serious accident.

Time for Review

Even if you’re an experienced driver, a refresher course about how to handle car malfunctions could save your life. Follow these safe-handling tips if your car suddenly acts up:

  • Headlights stop working. Press the dimmer switch a couple of times to see if that works. If it doesn’t, do the same with the headlight switch. If the lights don’t come on, pull off to the side and turn your hazard lights on. Call for help.
  • Power steering fails. Prepare to use extra muscle to steer. Turn to the side of the road and stop when it’s safe. If the engine cuts out, you’ll have to apply extra brake pressure to stop the car.
  • Brakes fail. This is probably one of the most frightening experiences a driver can have. First, downshift. If you have regular brakes, immediately pump the brake in rapid succession to build up brake fluid pressure. If you’ve pumped more than four times to no avail, use the parking brake to stop.
  • Tire blowouts. Resist the urge to slam on your brakes. Firmly grip the steering wheel, remove your foot from the accelerator and let the car slow gradually. As you slow down, pull to the side of the road and stop. Activate your emergency lights.
  • Sudden acceleration. If your car accelerates suddenly, put it in neutral. If that doesn’t slow you down, turn the ignition off. Pull to the side of the road as soon as it’s safe.


“Reduce the chances of experiencing these types of malfunctions by properly maintaining your car.” — Alex Perdikis


Follow the schedule in the owner’s manual for oil and fluid changes, tuneups and filter replacement. Keep a close eye on your tires. Rotate tires as directed by the manufacturer and replace when necessary.

What’s the No.1 Way to Survive an Accident?

The No.1 way to survive an accident is not to have one at all. If you drive defensively, concentrate on your surroundings and follow the basic precepts of smart driving, you significantly reduce the odds of having an accident.

Follow these proactive driving tips to avoid accidents:

1. Look far, far ahead. Concentrate on the road ahead and use your peripheral vision to stay in your own lane. You’re probably asking yourself, “How far ahead is enough?”

Here’s a simple trick — take a dry-erase marker, sit in the driver’s seat of your car and look straight ahead. With the marker, draw a line across the windshield a tad below your line of vision. Your eyes should stay above the line when you drive except for a brief glance below now and then.

If you’re in traffic, look through the windshield of the car ahead of you for a long view. It also helps to position your car slightly to the left of the driver in front of you. That way, you can see what’s going on farther down the road.

2. Beware of intersections. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over a third of vehicle crashes occur at intersections. Navigating an intersection is not the time to let your guard down.

Intersections are particularly dangerous for pedestrians, bicycle riders, motorcyclists and those in small cars. Why is that? Modern vehicle designs reduce a driver’s view of smaller objects.

Even so, it’s your fault if you hit a person, bicycle, motorcycle or smaller car. If you do, it means you didn’t look well enough.

When you turn at an intersection, brake completely. Look where you want to go before you turn the wheel. Check your side windows and mirrors and only turn when you’re confident the way’s clear.

If you’re driving through the intersection, protect yourself from distracted drivers who run through stop signs or red lights. Look left and right and through the side windows before you enter. Remember to leave enough room between you and the car in front of you, in case it slows to make a turn.

3. Perfect your off-the-road/back-on-the-road technique. Single car accidents account for a quarter of accident fatalities, according to the NHTSA. Distracted and drunken driving account for some of that total, but often a driver simply panics and overcorrects.

If, for whatever reason, you find yourself driving with two wheels off the road, steer straight and release the accelerator. Remain calm and slowly steer back on the road.

What If It Happens Anyway?

If you drive long enough, chances are you will be involved in an accident. It can happen even when you do everything right. Prepare for the “just in case” by making sure your phone is fully charged before you get in the car. Keep a survival kit with food, water and first aid equipment in the trunk. Maybe with a little luck, you won’t have to use them.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.