Not Fusion, CONfusion

I remember reading through my mother’s old High School yearbook years ago when I was a child. I recall only one detail that has stuck with me ever since. The yearbook had a disproportionate number of advertisements sponsored by furniture stores that doubled as funeral parlors. I didn’t pay attention to the well-wishes of her classmates, or the candid photographs of the marching band, or the triumphs of the football team. Even then, all those many years ago,it was the the unusual juxtaposition that attracted my attention. I suppose odd hybrid stores with mixed purposes were a lot more prevalent in farm country back in the 1950’s, at least a generation before Walmart swept them all away.

One should not be surprised therefore to learn that I found a similar fascination with a Google Street View image that I crossed yesterday evening as I researched an entirely different subject.[1]

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I’d discovered Meh’s Canadian & Chinese Cuisine in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. I tried to find their menu on a website to learn the secret of their oddly bifurcated cuisine but I left disappointed after fruitless searching. I’m continuously amazed to find Chinese restaurants in even the smallest, most remote and undoubtedly obscure towns that I’ve ever visited.

I know of a similar odd combination closer to home.

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I pass the New Moon Salvadorean – Mexican – Chinese Restaurant about once a week. My sons always point to the sign as we drive by, not because they comprehend the unusual combination but because they know its excites me so much to see it. The restaurateurs actually do have a website and they revel in their unique cuisine: "Enjoy some Pupusa Revueltas with your Shrimp Fried Rice or try some Steamed Meat Dumplings with your Carne Asada." A diner on one of the online rating sites commented that it’s not fusion, it’s confusion. Others responded that it’s not supposed to be a fusion cuisine at all. Nothing is being fused. The owners are appealing to two completely different clientele using a single storefront.

Like, furniture shop and funeral parlor.

I’ve never eaten there but it I’ll provide some incentive to any County Counters in the audience to give it a shot: it’s located in Falls Church, an independent city that’s considered the smallest county-equivalent entity in the United States. It counts the same as San Bernardino although ten thousand times smaller.

If anyone knows of other weird business combinations, go ahead and post them in the comments. Extra credit goes to posts that include a Street View link or embedded Flickr image.

[1]I usually work on several blog postings simultaneously. I can’t determine when a new topic might catch my attention and push me down a completely different path for awhile. Eventually I’ll get back on track. I’ll be sure to come up with a suitable honor for anyone who can guess my original line of my research. Hint: it has nothing to do with Canadian or Chinese cuisine.

When Categories Collide!

Here I explore a mashup of two wonderful topics covered in previous posts: the County Highpointers Association and the epilogue to my Smallest County Series. While in Northern Virginia and with a little free time on my hands, I decided to see whether I could reach the highpoints of both the smallest self-governing county in the United States and the smallest “county equivalent” location recognized by the Census Bureau.

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First this is not a difficult accomplishment. In fact it’s rather easily attained just outside of Washington, DC, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Arlington County (the smallest self-governing county) shares a border with the independent City of Falls Church (the smallest county-equivalent Census unit). Their highpoints are a mere three miles apart.

I drove up Minor’s Hill in western Arlington in search of the first highpoint. As I gained elevation, I caught my first clue as I came across a historical marker.

To the Northwest is Minor’s Hill, so called for George Minor who lived on the far side at the time of the revolution. It is the highest elevation in the county. In the fall of 1861, it was the site of a Confederate outpost, afterwards there was a federal signal station at the top of the hill. Here at the foot of the hill was a large cantonment housing the reserve force supporting the Federal outposts in Fairfax County.

One can hardly travel more than a mile in Virginia without stumbling across something of historical or cultural significance so it didn’t surprise me to learn that this promontory had been pressed into service by both sides during the Civil War. I also learned a new word: “Cantonment.” That’s a term used to describe a temporary or semi-permanent military quarters. I tucked those facts away so I’d retain at least something of value should my trip become a bust. I could always write it off as an educational opportunity. At the same time I took slight exception with the sign since it appeared that the true peak was due north rather than northwest. Nonetheless, I continued to trudge towards the summit.

Arlington County Highpoint on Minor's Hill
The highpoint wasn’t that remarkable of a place, in fact it was just a quiet, nondescript suburban street corner. There would be nothing of significance at all if it didn’t happen to be the highpoint. In the photograph above it can be found somewhere near the fence post that is closest to the end of the sidewalk. At 464 feet above sea level, Mount Everest, it is not.

City of Falls Church Poplar Drive
I then veered over to the independent City of Falls Church highpoint and arrived at my target destination less than ten minutes later. Falls Church is only about two square miles so it’s not like I was facing an extended search. I could see a hill rise visibly in front of me as I motored down Poplar Drive.

City of Falls Church Highpoint
Once again a wooded suburban street was the only obstacle I needed to mount in order to reach the distinguished locale. The highpoint itself appeared to be sitting in the back yard of a white, two story home set back slightly from the street, this time at 440 feet above sea level. That point also marked the boundary between the City of Falls Church and its other neighbor, Fairfax County.

So those were my two county highpoint adventures. They weren’t quite as remarkable as visits I’ve made to the New Hampshire state highpoint and the Wisconsin state highpoint but they were memorable enough because of the odd geographic distinctions associated with Arlington County and the City of Falls Church.

If you would ever like to replicate this journey, explicit driving instructions are provided on the County Highpointers Association visit reports for Arlington and Falls Church.