Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tiki Oasis 2009 road trip day 2

We're wrapping up Day 2 of our road trip to Tiki Oasis in Delano, CA, having logged another 379 miles and checked off three more of our planned tiki road stops. We also have a surprise for you with one unexpected tiki discovery.

Although our route to Los Angeles traces old Highway 99, we detoured south of Red Bluff to follow a scenic route through fruit and nut orchards and acres of sunflowers.

In addition to the great scenery, we were really happy to have taken the detour when we came across this sign. Rather than tell you where it is, we decided it would be more fun to throw down a challenge: can you idenify the mystery location?

We haven't come across a reference to this location in our road trip resources and would love to hear from anyone who can identify it and can share any history. It appears that the only thing tiki about it is the sign, but what a sign!

The next three stops on our road trip were all in Modesto and chock full of tikis.

Starting off the trio is Minnie's Restaurant located at 107 McHenry Ave. Parking is limited in the front so be sure to take advantage of the ample parking lot around back. If you're traveling south on McHenry, take the first right past the restaurant onto Needham St. The parking lot is on your right.

We struck gold at the back entrance with three fantastic tikis.

Back entrance

Front entrance

Back entrance

If you enter Minnie's from the back, you'll walk directly into the tiki bar. The lighting was murky, but the bar was well stocked with tiki decor. Our favorite pieces were the velvet paintings of tropical beauties. If you're hungry - for both food and more tiki decor - just walk through the bar into restaurant seating at the front. We can't vouch for the food, but there was a small group of people waiting to get in when the restaurant opened at 5:00 pm.

Just north of Minnie's you'll find the Tropics Motel at 936 McHenry Ave, now a Rodeway Inn. We didn't explore the hotel much, but did take some fun photos of the strangely headbanded tikis that populate the grounds.

On a side note, James Teitelbaum writes in his book Tiki Road Trip, 2nd Edition, that the Tropics Motel was opened by Ken Kimes who was also responsible for the Tropics Motel in Palm Springs, now named Caliente Tropics. We stayed at the Caliente this past spring and highly recommend it.

Our favorite stop of the day was the Tiki Lounge at 932 McHenry Ave. It was closed the first time we drove by, but we swung by later and were glad that we did because we got to meet Cliff, the Tiki Lounge's friendly bartender.

According to Cliff, the Tiki Lounge shifted focus about two years ago and has become a popular night spot for a young gay crowd. That shift brought new energy to the place and improved its reputation tremendously. Cliff also mentioned that the owner is very protective of the tiki decor, but recently approved a small expansion of the dance floor to meet the demands of his customers. The change is minimal with booths shifted closer to the back wall and black tiles replacing some of the carpeting.

So, there you have it, the end of Tiki Oasis Road Trip Day 2! Tomorrow should see us in San Diego just in time to meet up with friends for the opening party at the Bali Hai.

We'll continue to blog throughout the weekend and update you on the launch of our three new voodoo and tiki-themed t-shirts at Tiki Oasis.

We're also looking forward to your comments on our mystery tiki sign!


Citroendork said...

Wow What finds in Modesto! I wouldn't think of tiki and Modesto together but Great Pics!
I can't guess on the origins of the mystery sign but I know it would look great in my backyard!!!

Tina said...

fun, fun and more fun. such a great series of posts you're giving us. of course, now I want to go on the tiki road trip, too...

love those island girl paintings in the last location!

Robby Cress said...

Minnie's sounds great. I definitely need to take a road trip. And that old rusty sign - I love it!

Vintage Roadside said...

Austin - That sign would indeed look amazing over the Lowbrow Lanai!

Tina - Thanks! Glad you're enjoying the trip. Those paintings really are nice!

Robby - Lots of fun things to see at Minnie's. Also the other two places are just right down the street so plenty to see in Modesto.

rozydesouza - You're welcome!