Deep in the wilds of western Schenectady County, just over the Duanesburg town line on Route 7, there is a dinosaur.
It’s 12 feet tall with jaws of steel.
And it’s made of car parts.
Dubbed “Dino” by its creator a quarter century ago, the behemoth stands sentinel off the side of the Duanesburg Auto Care parking lot on Route 7 east of the hamlet of Duanesburg.
“Once in a while we get somebody curious about it,” said Ken Just, one of Duanesburg Auto’s owners.
Sometimes on a summer day it’s better to focus on the journey than the destination, rambling with time to stop to take in the interesting and offbeat.
Such stops are everywhere. There’s the Duanesburg dinosaur, good for a quick photo for Facebook or Instagram. There’s a group of carvings in a rock face in a park near Prattsville that’s nice for a longer stop, maybe a picnic lunch and quick hike.
Those heading to the Adirondacks through Mayfield can stop to see at the “Leather Guy,” a huge mountain man visible from Route 30 in Mayfield.
Kirk Douglas fans can stop in Amsterdam to have pictures taken with a rock and plaque honoring the Amsterdam native. That’s on Guy Park Extension, near the banks of the Chuctanunda Creek, for those looking for a picture with Spartacus himself.
In Albany, there’s Nipper, the RCA dog on Broadway, near the intersection with Loudonville Road. Nipper stands guard atop a building and is visible from nearby Interstate 90. But he’s also close enough to the edge for a group shot angled upwards.
In Troy, there’s Uncle Sam, a big metal likeness downtown on River Street, just north of Fulton, fit for “Sam and I” photographs. The real man behind Uncle Sam, Samuel Wilson, lived in Troy and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Signs direct visitors who want to pay their respects.
Also in Troy is the Rensselaer County Historical Society, 57 Second St. The society (open noon to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays) has artifacts of both Sam and Troy.
That includes baseball history — Troy had a National League baseball team from 1879 to 1882, sometimes called the forerunner to the New York/San Francisco Giants. There’s a monument to that effect, and the entire history of baseball in Troy, in the heart of Knickerbacker Park. The monument calls Troy the birthplace of the baseball Giants and baseball fans might want a photo.
Another worthy rock is just east of Prattsville, off Route 23 in northern Greene County. Pratt Rock is sometimes called New York’s Mount Rushmore with multiple carvings into the rock face put there in the mid-1800s by an eccentric local. You can see them after a short, sometimes steep hike, which also gives you a grand view of the valley.
Also just outside the Capital Region in Spencertown, just off the Taconic Parkway, is the sculpture garden of artist Ron Kanwit. It is open seasonally on weekends and visitors are welcome.
The centerpiece of the park, visible from the nearby Taconic Parkway, is a 20-foot-tall depiction the Greek Goddess Gaea’s head. But the park has many pieces, all the creations of Kanwit, and all worthy of a summer jaunt.
For more information, visit Kanwit’s website: www.fairpoint.net/~kanwit/
Many of these offbeat sites — both regional and across the country — can be found on the online travel site RoadsideAmerica.com. A quick stop there might help you plan your wanderings.